A little fact that even long time friends are surprised at when they find out is that I attended St. Gregory High School. I always try to throw in the fact that I was on scholarship there, which helps me maintain my lefty cred. I try to make that case, but the place was more elite at the time than it is now.
The school has made a big point of saying that they have no religious affiliation in their publicity as of late. Given this, the powers that be decided it’s a little weird to be named for a saint. They are removing the word “Saint” as well as the words “College Preparatory School” (which weren’t there when I went, I don’t think.) If you think it doesn’t leave much, you are right. The new name will be “The Gregory School.”
Of course, that still leaves the name “Gregory,” who wasn’t just a Doctor of the Church, but one of the four big time Doctors of the Church. Unless they can make the case that they are named for some other Gregory (Gregory Peck? Dick Gregory?), the school still has a religious name.
As Tom Beal pointed out in the Star, the school has never had a formal religious affiliation. Despite what Sigrid Just, our infamous local Bavarian protector of all things Catholic, tried to argue with me one day at the Newman Center, the school was not “High Anglican” or any other sort of Anglican. Whatever affiliation with the Episcopal Church it had was quite casual, almost coincidental. It was founded by an Episcopal Priest, Rev. Russell Ingersoll, and named by, of all people, a Jesuit Priest (not only a Papist, but one that happened to be my Mom’s boss), Fr. Charles Polzer.
There was a religious aspect to the school, but it wasn’t exactly heavy duty. There was a daily chapel that was pretty ecumenical when it veered into religion at all. Rev. Ingersoll or the school’s chaplain would preside at some. Rev. Ingersoll left the year I graduated, and from what I understand, whatever sectarian trappings of the place started to fade away pretty quickly. I heard from some younger friends that attended that even the three-foot stone St. Gregory statue (that may have actually been St. Brendan) disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Well, I guess the next time they call hitting me up for money, I have a ready made excuse. Gregory School? I didn’t go to any school by that name.
Beal’s article, I believe, has an error. The first chaplain of the school, Rev. Kevin Murphy, was an Episcopal priest. He left after my sophomore year and was planning to convert to Lutheranism. If that is in error, chalk it up to the the misunderstandings of my fifteen year old brain.
The late Pat Grace, who some may remember as a stalwart volunteer in the early days of the Tucson Aids Project, applied at the school before it opened. Rev. Ingersoll noted that his resume detailed experiences at many schools, but there was something missing.
“I see you have a lot of experience with Catholic schools. Have you ever worked at an Episcopal school?”
“You’re right; most of my work has been at Catholic schools. But, what’s an Episcopalian but a rich Catholic?”
He didn’t get a call back.
Pat had a pretty deep understanding of his faith and was willing to share it, and yes, make jokes about it. I understand that he went to a Jesuit seminary when he was younger, but it didn’t work out. It’s too bad because he would have been a fantastic priest. He passed away over two decades ago, but I still miss the guy sometimes.
Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.