Benedictine Monks Won't Fund Benet Academy After Recent 'Events'

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LISLE, IL — The Benedictine monks at the abbey that founded Benet Academy more than 120 years ago has announced it will separate from the Lisle Catholic school after the school hired a lacrosse coach who is part of a same-sex marriage, school officials announced on Tuesday.

In a letter sent by Benet Academy Chancellor Abbott Austin Murphy on Tuesday, the school announced that St. Procopius Abbey decided after “much deliberation” that they no longer have the resources needed to govern and oversee the school.

The letter cited “events in recent months” but did not specifically mention the hiring of Amanda Kammes, who is married to a woman and who was hired by the school under pressure last fall. The abbey said the the recent events provided monks the opportunity to examine their future relationship with Benet Academy.

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At the time, Murphy said that he was “deeply troubled” by Benet’s decision to hire Kammes, which he said, “calls into question (the school’s) adherence to the doctrines of the Catholic faith.”

In the letter sent on Tuesday, school officials said that new alternatives for school sponsorship will be sought out and that the Abbey would continue its role of governance in the meantime.

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“The goal is that Benet Academy will continue to operate with an emphasis on academic excellence and Catholic identity within the Benedictine tradition,” stated the letter, which was issued by Murphy and Benet Academy Chair Dennis Flynn.

NBC Chicago reported that St. Procopius Abbey is one of the school’s top donors and provided at least $50,000 to the school during the 2019-20 academic year, the station reported.

School officials vowed to keep community members and parents informed as it seeks out new sponsorship for the school after the abbey’s decision.

“Contrary to some reports circulating in the media earlier today, know of our steadfast commitment to ensuring that the Academy will maintain its Catholic identity, in the Benedictine tradition, for years to come,” Head of School Stephen Marth said in a statement issued Tuesday. “It is expected that a committee composed of representatives from the Diocese of Joliet, the American Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines, the Benet Board of Directors, and the school administration will collaborate on the successful completion of this important process.

Benet Academy came under fire in September when it rescinded an offer to coach girls’ lacrosse from Kammes after she listed her wife as the emergency contact in her onboarding paperwork. After outcry from students, staff and community members, Benet Academy again offered Kammes the position, which she accepted.

The job offer was made after Benet students and other supporters rallied outside the school protesting Benet’s decision to rescind the original job offer. At the time, the school issued the following statement about its decision.

” Benet Academy respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and live lives of their choosing,” the statement said. “Likewise, as a Catholic school, we employ individuals whose lives manifest the essential teachings of the Church in order to provide the education and faith formation of the young people entrusted to our care.”

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