Diocese to Open First Catholic Addiction and Recovery High School in Nation

Kolbe Academy will operate from Mullen Hall, and the former St. Francis Academy located on the property managed by the School Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. (Photos by John Simitz)

By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer

The Diocese of Allentown will set national precedent in fall 2019 by establishing a Catholic high school for students battling addiction and participating in recovery from substance and alcohol abuse.

The Diocese announced the opening of the school on Sept. 7 during a press conference at St. Francis Center for Renewal, Monocacy Manor, Bethlehem. The school will be known as Kolbe Academy and will operate from Mullen Hall, and the former St. Francis Academy located on the property managed by the School Sister of the Third Order Regular of St.

Bishop of Allentown Alfred Schlert joined Brooke Tesche, diocesan deputy superintendent of secondary education and special education in making the announcement of the new school – that will provide spiritual, academic and emotional development to students.

“Kolbe Academy is a great blessing. The Diocese recognizes the need of so many families in the Lehigh Valley whose children are suffering. Some of these families are Catholic, some are of other faiths and some may not have any faith – but all will be welcomed not because they are Catholic but because we are Catholic,” said Bishop Schlert.

The school will be accredited by Middle States Association and will serve 90 students in 9th through 12th grade. Along with theology, history, English, math and science, the faith-based curriculum will include individual, group and family drug and alcohol counseling.

“When students struggle, teachers do the best that they can. Our system is not meeting their needs…. Our children with drug and alcohol addictions need something different. We need a recovery high school and the children of the Lehigh Valley

“This is the next natural step for our Diocese to give high school students in this region the education and support they need to succeed.”

When students in recovery are ready to return to school, Tesche said, statistics cite a dismal 20 percent chance of remaining sober.

“They need to learn how to live without drugs and alcohol in their lives. Faith is the critical element for their success. A key element in recovering is ‘surrendering.’ We can talk about it and explore it in a Catholic high school,” she said.

Tuition to attend Kolbe will be an estimated $16,000, an equable fee to a 28-day treatment program. The Diocese expects to establish financial aid and scholarships to assist with tuition.

“Our goal is to do whatever it takes to give them the services they need,” said Tesche.

In addition, Tesche said, students must be 30-days sober, and both students and families must be committed to recovery before enrolling in the academy.

The logo for Kolbe Academy is a phoenix symbolizing rebirth, rising from flames and ashes, beating all life challenges and defeating hard times.

The academy is named after St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of people struggling with addiction, prisoners and the pro-life movement. He was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar and a martyr in the German death Camp of Auschwitz during World War II. St. Maximilian Kolbe was very active in promoting the Immaculate Virgin Mary and is known as the Apostle of Consecration to Mary.

The academy will be dedicated to him and placed under the protection of the Blessed Mother next fall.
For more information, visit Kolbe Academy's website  or like Kolbe Academy on Facebook or follow @Kolbe_Academy on Twitter.