Monasticism Creates Academy's Character

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 19, 1999 | Go to article overview

Monasticism Creates Academy's Character


Byline: Peter Romba

The haze of dawn covers the Marmion campus like a thin silk sheet, complementing the dew-laden grass and cool air. The expanse of flat, open lawn on Butterfield Road gently fades into oblivion, supplying the onlooker with dim silhouettes of buildings in the distance.

The tranquillity of the Saturday morning is abruptly broken by the thunder of bells in the distance. A tall spire erupts out of the receding fog, exposing a steel cross at its peak. The booming chiming continues, resonating across the open field.

Attached to the lofty bell tower is a low roofline that races outward in an arced, roller coaster climb to an even more stunning northeastern peak. Between the bell tower and this phenomenal curving roof is one of the building's outside walls. Set in a decorative concrete block is a small piece of limestone from an English cathedral. Alongside it is a sharply engraved inscription: St. Augustine of Canterbury Church Marmion Abbey, August 1, 1998.

Within a corridor connecting the impressive church to the Marmion Abbey, Abbot Vincent Bataille quietly walks behind the rows of waiting monks. On the wall is a tiny decorative bell with a short chain. Centering himself behind the formation, he gently rings the bell, whose high tone can somehow be heard despite the muffled vibrations of the tower outside. Upon hearing the signal, the monks slowly file into the church. It is 6:30 a.m., and the daily Office of Lauds service has begun.

One of the biggest differences about Marmion from other high schools is the atmosphere created by mentally disciplining leadership programs as well as the academic and religious discipline instilled by having monks occupy a large portion of the education and administration process within the academy.

The Marmion monastic community devotes much of its time toward educating and ministering to the cadets at the academy, whose buildings share the same land as the abbey. Many monks also have a triple function: not only attending to their monastic duties, but also teaching and functioning in the administration of the academy as well.

Father Basil Yender, spent several years as Marmion's academic dean and is now the headmaster of the academy and instructor of the freshman honors theology program. Bataille is the current president of both the Marmion Academy administration as well as the senior leader of the monastic community, but has spent years in the past as a dorm prefect, a dean of students and a sophomore honors theology instructor.

Holding multiple roles creates a dedicated and well-versed faculty familiar with all aspects of student life at Marmion. …

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