Overbrook Academy to no longer lease diocesan property for school

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WARWICK — Overbrook Academy, an elite international Catholic boarding school for girls in grades six through nine situated on the diocese-owned Aldrich Mansion property at Warwick Neck for more than 20 years, will move its operations at the end of the academic year to the Greenville campus of Mater Ecclesiae College, which is slated to close at the same time.

Overbrook is staffed by the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, the same group which provides spiritual, academic and social formation to women at Mater Ecclesiae. The college has served as the primary formation center in North America for the consecrated women for the past 20 years. Last fall, Regnum Christi announced it would close the college at the end of the spring semester and blend its formation program with one already in operation at San Damaso in Madrid, Spain, citing fewer vocations and low enrollment.

“We’re grateful for the community’s support and believe this is a wonderful opportunity for our school,” said Overbrook Director Barbara Marischal. “The location and facilities at Mater Ecclesiae are ideal for our program and we believe this will be a great benefit to our students and their families.”

The deciding factor in the planned move of Overbrook to Greenville is that Regnum Christi already owns the 44-acre parcel of land that will become Overbrook’s new boarding campus at 60 Austin Ave., located in a residential neighborhood off Rte. 44, and would no longer have to pay rent for its operations, as it does now to the diocese.

“It really was an ideal situation for us,” said Jim Fair, communications director for Regnum Christi, North America, about the move, which he says will accommodate well the approximately 150 girls who are expected to attend Overbrook this fall.

“The campus has all the facilities we need, and it is a real quiet place.” Overbrook will continue to operate a camp in the summer, Fair said during a telephone interview from his office in Chicago.

Overbrook’s students, he said, are primarily from affluent families living in Central and South America. Many do not necessarily stay at the boarding school straight through from grades six through nine, rather, they mix in a year or two of formation with their education in their home countries.

“These are Latin American girls whose families want them to have an experience abroad and to learn English,” Fair said.

Through the years, some students would matriculate from Overbrook and enter Mater Ecclesiae College, but the number of young women entering college at the Greenville campus has continued to drop. This year, the college has only 12 students, according to Fair. Some of these students will move on to Spain, while others will enter other formation programs.

Overbrook is one of eight private schools in the U.S. and Europe operated by Oak International, a Catholic service organization affiliated with the Legion of Christ. According to the organization’s Website, the tuition at Overbrook for the 2015-2016 academic year will top $41,000.

Fair said the relationship between Overbrook and the diocese has been a very good one, and he looks forward to a continued good working relationship with the community in Greenville, which he said will benefit from having Overbrook there.

“We’ve been really blessed to have this good relationship with the Diocese of Providence for more than 20 years,” he said.

Michael F. Sabatino, chief financial officer for the diocese, said the diocese is grateful for the more than two decades-long partnership it has shared with the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi at Overbrook.

“It’s been a very good relationship for 20 plus years, and it’s been a wonderful opportunity for all the young ladies to grow spiritually,” he said.

Sabatino said the diocese is exploring a variety of options for the Overbrook facility, which is located at the southern end of the Aldrich Mansion property, in the former Our Lady of Providence Seminary.