Wednesday, August 20, 2014

St. Bernard Abbey receive three novices

At First Vespers of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 14, 2014), Abbot Cletus Meagher, O.S.B., received three new postulants into the novitiate of St. Bernard Abbey. The new novices were formally given the Benedictine habit of tunic, scapular and belt.  On the occasion each received his new name to be used in his new way of life. 

Brother Novice Dominic (Stephen) Lee was born in Madison, Alabama twenty years ago.  Ten years later his family moved to Huntsville, Alabama where they remain and are members of Holy Spirit Parish.  Br. Dominic was homeschooled throughout his high school years.  He has two older sisters and three younger brothers.  One of his sisters is a Benedictine nun at the Abbey of St. Walburga in northern Colorado.   

Born and reared in Birmingham, Alabama, Brother Paschal (Gabriel) Pautler is 18 years old.  He has a younger sister and two younger brothers, as well as an older half-brother and a half-sister. Br. Paschal attended St. Rose Academy in Birmingham before coming to St. Bernard Prep as a boarding student in the 9th grade.  He graduated from SBP in May 2014 and entered the monastery just two weeks later, drawn to the Benedictine life he saw lived out during his four years as a St. Bernard student. 

Brother Pachomius (Gustavo) Alverado is 36 years old. He was born in Matanzas, Cuba. Brother’s mother and his sister, his only sibling, live together in Cuba. His father is deceased. While still in Cuba, Br. Pachomius attended university where he studied Social Media. Before completing his degree, he was hired by a marketing and public relations company in Bogota, Columbia. He held that job for two years during which time he learned of the Benedictine monastery of Tibati in Bogota. After several visits to the monastery, he decided to join them. However, after about a year and a half, he chose to leave Tibati before completing his novitiate. While at the monastery of Tibati, he met our Fr. Joel Martin, O.S.B., who was in Colombia recruiting for the Prep School. Fr. Joel apparently made a good impression on Br. Pachomius as the meeting led him to investigate St. Bernard Abbey and come to the U.S.A. to join us.

Having served their initial two months in the monastery as postulants, the three men will live as novices (beginners) in the monastery for one year plus one day, making it possible to profess their first vows on the Solemnity of the Assumption, 15 August 2015.  Remaining at the monastery for the entirety of their novitiate year, the novices will live the Benedictine life of prayer and work, and spend time studying the Rule of Saint Benedict, monastic tradition and spirituality, and Sacred Scripture.  They and the community will use this year to discern whether God is calling them to live the monastic life and its vows of Stability, Obedience, and Conversion of Life (conversatio morum) at Saint Bernard Abbey.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New academic year underway at St. Bernard

Students at St. Bernard Prep School in Cullman recently completed their first week of school.  Many were new students making new friends in a new town with new faculty members.  Many were returning to their school to begin a new chapter in their book of life. 

One hundred and eighty students in grades 7-12 began classes on August 11.  Sixty-three students reside at  St. Bernard from nine states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, West Virginia; and five countries:  Africa, Germany, China, Taiwan, and Korea. 
Min Gao
Each of the St. Bernard schools, Middle and High, began the first school day with an assembly.  Mr. Dan Baillargeon, high school headmaster, welcomed new students, faculty and staff, and informed students of new programs being offered.  He invited three faculty members to describe new programs being offered at St. Bernard Prep.  Miss Min Gao, a native of Shanghai, China, spoke about her opportunity to work at St. Bernard Prep teaching Mandarin Chinese.  St. Bernard is pleased to have Miss Gao, a recent Samford University master’s program graduate, on staff to assist our Asian community as well as teach the Chinese language and culture. 

Regina Willoughby
Mrs. Regina Willoughby, an alumnus of St. Bernard, spoke to the group about a competitive archery team as well as adding bowling, recently sanctioned as an interscholastic sport by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Br. Bruno Bravata
Br. Bruno Bravata, is serving as campus ministry coordinator, and invited students to get involved.  Students will be adopting residents at one of the several area nursing homes, each having on-going visits and completing a book to be presented to the resident and his or her family at the end of the year.  He also described a planned mission trip, and shared his enthusiasm for the Christian faith and life..

A Blessing concluded the assembly.  Faculty, staff, and students renewed  their commitment to education and community life.  All in the school vowed to renew their commitment to be men and women of integrity.  Each person promised to fully use their talents and gifts; to strive to be a good example for one another and to follow the way of Christ; and to dedicate themselves to the task of learning and to the pursuit of wisdom. 

Abbot Cletus Meagher, O.S.B., Chairman of the Board at St. Bernard Prep, closed the assembly with a prayer.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Baillargeon eager to start at St. Bernard Prep

Dan Baillargeon, the newly appointed Upper School Headmaster at St. Bernard Prep, has begun his work in his new position.  Dan and his wife, Megan,  moved to Cullman, AL, with their family of six children in early July.  As he undertakes his leadership role in the school, his plan for St. Bernard is simple: use the school’s vision statement as a mission and use the school’s Catholic identity of academic excellence as a guide.
Baillargeon brings the talents he has developed after eight years’ experience as a principal.  He has been involved in annual fund drives, branding, public relations, and grant writing.  In addition, his strong academic preparation includes his plan to complete studies for a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
“When Fr. Joel contacted me about the position, I had never heard of St.  Bernard, but when I came to visit, I knew St. Bernard and Cullman would be a great place for my family,” Baillargeon added.
Over the past few months the Upper School classroom building has been upgrades with a new roof and alarm system as well as new HVAC .   The bookstore has been re-organized, the small chapel has been renovated, and new wiring has been installed in the computer lab.  A new school receptionist position has been added to the foyer of the school.  Also a seating area in the Headmaster’s Office has been arranged, and just behind that area a newly designed meeting room. 
“I am really looking forward to getting the year started,” Baillargeon said.  “My respect for the faculty and students is of the utmost, so I have high expectations for all of us.”
School President, Fr. Joel Martin, said he welcomes the Baillargeons to Cullman and looks forward to seeing great things happen for St. Bernard Prep!  “Dan and his wife Megan have a beautiful family,” said Fr. Joel.  “Over the next 17 years all of their six children will attend Sacred Heart School in Cullman and graduate under their headmaster-father at St. Bernard Prep.  The family is a wonderful addition to the entire Cullman community, and their presence will be known and felt.”
St. Bernard Preparatory School is a private Catholic co-ed boarding and day school operated by the Benedictine monks at St. Bernard Abbey.  Follow St. Bernard Prep on Facebook or visit online at