Holy cross

Sainte-Croix moves to a retirement center

Sainte-Croix High School, the area Catholic high school that used to be at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, is now at The Way Retreat Center in Midland.

School principal Carolyn Gonzalez said the new school, for which fundraising was underway, was on hold. The school moved at the end of December, but started classes in January.

Gonzalez said the chairman of the board of directors for Holy Cross and The Way Retreat have met and started talking to the two boards to discuss a deal.

“That’s how it all started, is that they got to know each other and saw the needs of each organization and came together,” she said.

Students from Holy Cross High School attend their morning chapel service on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at The Way Retreat Center in Midland. (Eli Hartman | American Odessa)

“This is our home and so we are really focused on working with The Way Retreat Center to continue the partnership, so that our students can stay here as long as possible,” said Gonzalez.

Fasken Oil and Ranch Ltd. agreed several years ago to donate nearly 50 acres of land on Holiday Hill Road in Midland to the nonprofit Permian Basin Catholic High School. Holland said there will be 29 buildable acres.

The school would have been on Holiday Hill Road, south of Tom and Nadine Craddick Highway / State Highway 349 Reliever Route near Green Tree North and the Green Tree Country Club.

Gonzalez said that due to the pandemic and economic hardships in the community, construction on the new school has been halted.

“We pray that a long term deal is made with the WRC and that we can build on site in the future…” she said.

The courtyard of the Way Retreat Center is pictured Thursday, May 6, 2021 in Midland. (Eli Hartman | American Odessa)

Alvin Navarrete, director of The Way Retreat Center, said Michael LaMonica, the centre’s landowner, was very keen on having the school on his property. LaMonica is a deacon at San Miguel Arcangel in Midland.

Navarrete said that when the school talked about constructing a building, LaMonica said they could come to the center, set up their school there and use the existing facilities.

The retreat has casitas, villas and a courtyard which are used during the week for classes. The center is used for events such as weddings, quinceaneras, and spiritual retreats, mainly on weekends.

Brad Gibson, Chairman of the Holy Cross Board of Directors, has confirmed that the school will be relocating to The Way Retreat.

“We are planning to build a high-end gymnasium and science lab. At this point we are no longer looking at the Holiday Hill Road property, ”Gibson said.

It is an opportunity to step into a top notch facility that is already built and there is room to develop.

“We think it’s going to be a great wedding,” Gibson said.

Holy Cross High School freshman Ben Bowman, 15, left, and his classmate Ethan Bollinger, 15, prepare before their Spanish class begins on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at the Way Retreat Center in Midland. (Eli Hartman | American Odessa)

He added that donations are welcome as they have not finished collecting contributions for the gymnasium and science lab.

“It was kind of a win-win situation,” Navarrete said. “He was able to help house the school. It has always been a dream for him and also a welcome addition to the retreat center. … I was able to see them daily and interact with them. It has been a real blessing for me personally to have them here.

Gonzalez said the staff and students love their new location.

“They have been so good to us…”

She added that whatever the school needs, the center takes care of it.

“… They have a wonderful staff who have now become our staff. We have a chef who takes care of our children and prepares the meals. We have a manager who… helps us keep the building safe. … ”Said Gonzalez.

A teacher from Holy Cross High School holds her rosary during the morning chapel service on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at The Way Retreat Center in Midland. (Eli Hartman | American Odessa)

She noted that they did not have to leave St. Elizabeth.

“We left with sadness because we loved Sainte-Élisabeth. Bro Mark (Woodruff) and his team are just nice and always been so good. It was that we needed to grow; our school needs to grow; we need more students. So to grow we needed a bigger environment, a bigger environment and that’s where we are.

The Chapel of the Way was built so that all denominations can use the Way.

“All faiths are welcome at our school, and we welcome students of all faiths,” Gonzalez said.

The school had 32 students this year and will have its first upper-class graduate in 2022, she said. There are 13 staff members in total, including seven core subject teachers.

The past two years have been difficult due to COVID-19. She noted that teachers at Holy Cross have always tried to ensure that every student receives a quality education.

Holy Cross High School Matthew Crawley, 17, left, shows his American history teacher Lauren Rieves a slide of his powerpoint during class Thursday, May 6, 2021 at the Way Retreat Center in Midland. (Eli Hartman | American Odessa)

“… I just think every teacher in America should receive a gold medal to commemorate this year that they have endured and that they have done it with a smile. Our teachers, they come with a good attitude. You see them, they are happy; they teach and they come every day, ready to teach knowing what might hit them – COVID-19, ”Gonzalez said.

However, Sainte-Croix has not struggled to keep people because of the pandemic.

“Because we’re so small, we can cover each other up, take classes. We have been truly blessed not to have to lose anyone to COVID-19. We had COVID-19 in the building at the very beginning, but after December. We did not have to go into quarantine because of COVID-19. We took a week after spring break and had virtual lessons to make sure everyone took those 10 days; make sure they had no symptoms before coming back in person, and it really helped us because we didn’t have any of that.

Gonzalez added that parents have been great at monitoring the health of their students “because they know we’re so small that if a student or teacher falls with COVID-19, we’re all done.” We all need to go into quarantine. “

The school offers volleyball, six-a-side football and the teams are called the Crusaders, or sometimes the Lady Crusaders. The teams face off against Midland Christian, Lorraine, Marathon, Forsan, Imperial, Trinity and sometimes any team that can fit them into their schedule.

She added that things a public high school would have, like transportation, are now available at Holy Cross.

“We have a bus, but it’s a small… We don’t have a big bus. … We take the bus from Odessa to here, then from here to Odessa, so that students from the outskirts of Midland and then Odessa have a place where they can go and get on the bus, ”Gonzalez said.