Catholic education is an expression of the Church’s mission of salvation and an instrument of evangelization: to make disciples of Christ and to teach them to observe all that He has commanded.1
This call to make disciples of Christ at The Atonement Academy first started with Fr. Christopher Phillips’ call home to the Roman Catholic Church. In August of 1980, Pope John Paul II issued the Pastoral Provision which allowed Anglican clergymen to become Catholic priests. In January 1982, Fr. Phillips resigned from the Anglican ministry and moved with his family to San Antonio, Texas, at the invitation of a small group of people who had left the Episcopal Church with the intention of becoming Roman Catholics. On July 9, 1983, Father Phillips received permission from Saint Pope John Paull II to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood and was ordained by Archbishop Patrick Flores on August 15, 1983 in the Cathedral of San Fernando.
On the very day the parish was established, Fr. Phillips told his small congregation that in ten years he envisioned that our parish would found a Catholic school…His vision became a reality in August of 1994. Following the tenth anniversary celebration of the parish the previous year, it was determined in October of 1993 that the work of establishing a school would start – initially a small one – to begin the following year. In August 1994, The Atonement Academy opened its doors to students in kindergarten through third grade, with an enrollment of sixty-six children. Initially, the teaching staff was comprised of the School Sisters of St. Francis.
As the years progressed, lay teachers were added to supplement the growing student population, with the addition of another grade each year. In 1996, the year in which fifth grade was added, the school also began a class for pre-kindergarten students. The first eighth grade class graduated in the millennial year of 2000. After a few years of having graduating eighth graders who left the halls of The Atonement academy to pursue their high school education elsewhere, the school council and the clergy decided to take the huge step of establishing a high school, and the ground breaking for a large addition took place on August 15, 2003, with the Superintendent of Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and Bishop Bernard Popp taking part in the ceremony. Included in the project was an extension of the existing church building, which more than doubled the seating capacity, allowing for the seating for the expanding student body. In March 16, 2006, Archbishop Gomez blessed the new school building. The students presented him with cards, and greeted him with enthusiastic applause in the new school gymnasium.
The inaugural freshman class of the Upper School began in August 2004, and each year saw the addition of another grade until the high school was complete. The first two high school classes graduated in 2008 and 2009. Now an institution comprised of more than four hundred students, it is possible for a child beginning in pre-kindergarten to receive fourteen years of excellent Catholic and classical education. Yet the growth of the school continued, and once again the school council and the clergy determined that in order to serve the growing population of parents who wanted a Catholic and classical education for their children, a new high school building was needed. The doors open for the First phase in August 2017.
The history of The Atonement Academy is not yet complete. The movement of the parish and school into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter by the decree of the Holy See makes The Atonement Academy the first PreK-12th grade school in the Ordinariate and ensures its place in the annals of Catholic history. For more information about the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and its mission, please go to http://ordinariate.net/.
1Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, The Catholic School (Vatican City, 1977) 5-7