SSPX schools

SSPX schools

Ken Bayliss

Father Edward Black, Superior SSPX (Society of St Pius X) Australia, some months ago announced a new era in SSPX high school education in Victoria and Queensland from the start of the 2012 school years.

Three Dominican nuns from Wanganui, New Zealand, will relocate to Tynong, Victoria, to teach students at Corpus Christi High School while in Queensland the government has approved high school grades and curricula to begin at St Philomena School (see December-January AD2000).

There is a strong family connection to five former parishioners of the Oxley, Brisbane, parish who are serving the church. Two are Dominican nuns in New Zealand, two are SSPX nuns in the United States, and Fr Damien Fox, the first priest from the parish, is in Toronto, Canada.

Father Black requested the SSPX choirs to sing the Te Deum at the normal Sunday Missa Cantata (Sung Mass) at which nine altar boys serve. The Te Deum is the traditional hymn of thanksgiving to God for His blessing us with three teaching nuns at Tynong and for the beginning of a high school in Brisbane.

Alistair Barros (December-January AD2000) wrote a glowing report about the long term academic successes of St Philomena's pupils. He also suggested that "a sticking point" deterring non-SSPX parents from enrolling their children was that the four SSPX bishops are not yet regularised in the Church, although their excommunication was lifted in 2009.

In fact doctrinal discussions have just concluded between theological experts for Cardinal Levada (Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) and for the Superior of the SSPX, Bishop Fellay. The experts have been consulting for two years.

On 8 June 2011, Monsignor Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission, Ecclesia Dei, told journalists that the themes under discussion were: primary and episcopal collegiality; relations between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic confessions; religious liberty; and the Missal of Paul Vl.

Until authorised evaluations are made no public statements will be issued.

The SSPX laity, however, are in a quite different position from their bishops and priests. They can choose to attend SSPX churches and hear the Tridentine Mass. They are neither schismatic nor excommunicated for doing so. This was the decision of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in 1993.

His decision was based on the appeal to Rome by six Honolulu laymen against their excommunication by the then Bishop of Hawaii (now deceased) in 1991 for allowing their children to be confirmed by SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson.

This was the Holy Father's first public defence of Tradition and his decison still stands. Hence there is no "sticking point" for any Catholic parents to enrol their children in SSPX schools if they so choose.

Finally, in 1998 small independent school applications were still a new ball game politically. I will never forget that sunny Spring morning in 1998 when Fr Gerard Hogan and myself attended the critical interview with Judy Spence, then a senior Labor minister and a former high school teacher. We needed her representation to her colleague Dean Wells, the Minister for Education, and a former senior lecturer in law (University of Queensland) to approve St Philomena School as a registered independent school of the SSPX.

The qualities of the Principal were paramount in predicting the ongoing financial success of the school. We left the interview with Judy Spence's statement that she would recommend our application to the Minister.

Fr Hogan spent three dynamic years as Principal. His interpersonal skills endeared him to adults, teens and children. He had the rare ability to motivate people to raise money for St Philomena School. He is now teaching Missal Latin to High School students in San Jose, California.

As for Judy Spence and Dean Wells, they are still faithfully serving the constituents of their Labor electorates. The generosity in the spirit of education to Fr Hogan and myself on the part of these two non-Catholic politicians is gratefully acknowledged.

Holland Park West, Qld

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