SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
Founded in 2008 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, the Chesterton Schools Network was inspired by Saint Pope John Paul II and named for the writer and Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton, who the school says, “exemplified the Catholic faith through a life filled with joy, wonder, and gratitude.”
The culture of life, Cultura Vitae, was the school’s motto from the very start and continues to be, as they make it their mission to prepare their students to accept the Lord’s offer of life and live it abundantly while rising above the trappings of materialism and despair that are so common in today’s society. With a classical curriculum that includes liberal arts and a strong emphasis on the development of Christian virtue, they focus on the three pillars of intellect, character and spirituality, focusing always on teaching their students not what to think, but how to think.
There are more than 18 schools in the Chesterton Network operating in Italy, Canada, and the United States, including one in Milwaukee for the past four years. Currently located on West Chester Street, right off of Interstate 94, Chesterton Academy of Milwaukee has followed the model of other Chesterton schools by leasing a space in order to keep tuition costs lower for their families, but Headmaster Eric DeMeuse said that from the onset they’ve been keeping their eyes open for a more permanent place to call home.
That long-awaited opportunity arose when they found an empty school at St. Anthony Parish in Menomonee Falls.
A hallmark of Chesterton Academy is that all of their students get to attend daily Mass.
For the past four years, students at Chesterton Academy of Milwaukee have gone to local parishes and been bussed back to school after Mass. DeMuse said that it’s been a rich opportunity for the students and faculty to be immersed in parish life and to get into the habit of daily Mass attendance.
He said, “We want them to go forth from our school with the desire to meet with our Lord daily, and the deep knowledge that He’s right there waiting for them.”
Finding a space with a parish on campus was a dream come true for the parents, staff, and students, and an unexpected gift for the parishioners and priests at St. Anthony Parish. Msgr. Ross Shecterle, head pastor at St. Anthony said, “Fr Linn and I are extremely excited about having a faithful group of young people not only on campus but attending daily Mass. It’s a great beacon of hope for the Church.”
St. Anthony offers 8 a.m. Mass daily, and is located just 15 minutes north of Chesterton’s current location with more than enough room to grow from their current 40 students, four full-time teachers, and four part-time teachers, to their 150-200 student goal.
While students and staff finish out the 2019-20 school year in their Milwaukee location, they will spend the next six to seven months putting plans together to refurbish their new space.
“The building has good bones,” DeMeuse said. “we’re excited to get in and clean things out and fit it to the purposes of our school to begin there in the fall of 2020.”
The school plans to start a fundraising campaign in the upcoming months and will host their annual fundraiser at Wisconsin Club’s Country Club, 6200 W. Good Hope Road, Milwaukee, on Saturday, Feb. 15. All are welcome to this evening of music and merriment. Should anyone wish to attend or donate, they can go to the Chesterton Academy of Milwaukee’s website at chestertonmke.org or call 262-264-8660.