Father Edwin Leahy, Benedictine monk, St. Benedict's Prep
October 7, 2015

LACEY, Wash. – The Rev. Edwin Leahy, O.S.B. -- best known for his vision that transformed an embattled prep school in one of New Jersey’s most impoverished cities into a vital learning space for young men -- is the distinguished speaker for the Saint Martin’s University 2015 Benedictine Institute Lecture.

Leahy, headmaster of St. Benedict’s Preparatory School, a 7-12, all-boys school in the heart of Newark, will reflect on how the profound insights of Benedictine spirituality have helped restore and forge a successful and meaningful academic community at St. Benedict’s Prep. His talk will take place Wednesday, October 7, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., in the Saint Martin’s Norman Worthington Conference Center, 5300 Pacific Avenue SE. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP jdwyer@stmartin.edu for this free event.

Under the guidance of the monks of Newark Abbey, the school's philosophy follows the 1,500-year-old Benedictine tradition of Christian education, a tradition it shares with Saint Martin’s University.

Leahy is credited with leading the way in saving St. Benedict’s Prep, established in 1868, from extinction following the suspension of operations at the school in 1972 in the wake of the civil unrest that devastated Newark and other American cities. St. Benedict’s re-opened in 1973 with 89 students and 14 faculty members. The school has since grown to include more than 500 students, most from African and Hispanic backgrounds, and 67 faculty members.

Leahy’s talk will be preceded by a viewing of “The Rule,” a 90-minute documentary film about the monks, faculty, parents and students who worked under Leahy’s leadership in reversing the fate of the school to its current state of graduating students at a nearly 100-percent college acceptance rate. The film premiered in New York City on September 5, 2014 and later that month premiered on PBS television stations. Its title refers to The Rule of Saint Benedict, which the founder of the Benedictine religious order wrote in 530 A.D. as a guide to creating a vibrant monastic community.

Leahy, who is a 1963 graduate of St. Benedict’s Prep, became the 23rd headmaster in 1972. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Seton Hall University in 1968 and a Master of Divinity, with distinction, in 1975 from the Woodstock College at Union Theological Seminary. He took his first vows as a monk of the Benedictine Abbey of Newark in 1966 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1972.

Leahy began his work at St. Benedict's Prep in 1967, teaching biology and religion, and assisting with the wrestling and football teams.  After the suspension of operations at St. Benedict’s, Leahy was named to direct efforts to re-open it as soon as was feasibly possible.

Leahy received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from St. John’s University, in Collegeville, Minnesota.  In 2014, he received the first Robert F. Kennedy Urban School Leader Award from the national Schools That Can organization. He has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and St. Peter’s University.

The Benedictine Institute Lecture Series, launched in 2013, celebrates the long-standing Benedictine tradition of education at Saint Martin’s University. Built on the Benedictine tenet of “listening with the ear of one’s heart,” this series provides a forum for the discussion of faith-related issues. The lecture series is organized by the Benedictine Institute, which seeks to contribute to the intellectual and spiritual development of the Saint Martin’s community and beyond by leading the University in upholding and promoting its Benedictine heritage, and sharing those values with others.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.


For additional information:
Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B.
Executive Director, Benedictine Institute

Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University
360-438-4332; GChan@stmartin.edu