Church of Oklahoma Begins Process of Becoming a Major Sponsor of St. Gregory's University
The Leaders of the Catholic Church of Oklahoma took the first step in becoming official sponsors of St. Gregory’s University Friday during a signing ceremony on the school’s Shawnee campus.
After a prayer service in St. Gregory’s Abbey Church, the Most Reverend Paul Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City, and the Most Rev. Edward Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, joined the Rt. Rev. Lawrence Stasyszen, O.S.B., Abbot of St. Gregory’s Abbey, and Rev. Don Wolf, Chair of the Board of St. Gregory’s University Board of Directors in signing a Memorandum of Understanding and Declaration of Intent that solidified the future of Catholic higher education in Oklahoma through St. Gregory’s University.
Benedictine monks established the institution that became St. Gregory’s University in1875, but this is the first time the leaders of the Catholic Church have joined with the monastic community to integrate the mission of the university into the mission of the Catholic Church in Oklahoma.
“Today we see an unprecedented partnership between the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the Diocese of Tulsa and St. Gregory’s Abbey to advance the mission of Catholic higher education in our region,” Abbot Lawrence said. “It promises to spark a new level of creative commitment to academic, pastoral and personal formation programs for students and parish leaders throughout the state.
“St. Gregory’s will be the only Catholic university in the nation with this degree of collaboration and shared institutional ownership between a religious order and diocesan hierarchy.”
As part of these efforts, St. Gregory’s will establish a flagship theology and pastoral ministry program, as well as deliver other services in support of diocesan and parish operations. Special efforts will be made to reach out to low income and minority students, as well as potential first generation college students within Catholic parishes, offering encouragement to pursue and attain a university-level education.
“St. Gregory’s University is the only institution of Catholic higher education in the state and a tremendous asset for the church in Oklahoma,” Archbishop Coakley said. “It’s my hope that this new form of governance will allow the university to play an even more central role in advancing the church’s mission of Catholic education in our state.”
Among the university’s first major projects after the signing will be the establishment of a Catholic nursing program, which is being developed in conjunction with Oklahoma’s four Catholic hospitals.
“The parishes and Catholic institutions will benefit significantly from the customized services they’ll receive as the result of this innovative partnership with St. Gregory’s,” Bishop Slattery said. “The university will address our specific need to educate lay ministers, increase evangelization, deliver spirituality programs and establish a Catholic nursing program.
“We are excited by all the opportunities to work together with mutually-shared missions.”