A retreat on a nearly 600-acre lot outside of Tyler to serve Catholics in East Texas and worldwide is being planned. 

Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler said he and other Catholics are supporting the creation of a large center. Organizers plan to include K-12 education buildings, an oratory, residences and a retreat as a part of the massive development on 575 acres located in the Winona area.

The National Catholic Register reported the development is called Veritatis Splendor, which means the “Splendor of Truth.”

The center is not affiliated with the Diocese of Tyler, but “it is an independent, lay-inspired Catholic organization,” according to the Register.

Strickland said that Veritatis Splendor is an inspiration of several Catholic families coming to East Texas.

“They desire to establish a community of Catholics and anyone who is committed to Jesus Christ,” Strickland said. “It is an ambitious effort that will face a lot of challenges but the families involved are deeply committed to Jesus Christ and their faith is their strength.”

Strickland noted the center is not financially connected to the Diocese of Tyler but it is located in the territory of the diocese.

He added the project is in the beginning stages and many details still need to be worked out. The families involved in the center’s planning are consulting attorneys and canonists to make sure plans have “a sound foundation.”

“They are homeschool families who want to support each other in community as they nurture and educate their children,” Strickland said. “They welcome all who desire to live their faith in Jesus Christ in a deeper way. I’m impressed by their commitment to Jesus Christ and their willingness to make great sacrifices for their faith and family.”

Strickland said he knows that a new initiative raises questions and concerns. While he supports the project, Strickland emphasized that Veritatis Splendor is a non-clergy involved development.

“These families desire to address our challenging times by living their faith in Jesus Christ more deeply,” he said. “They are taking on the financial burdens and organizational challenges that an effort like this entails. I want to support them as they seek to establish this community in East Texas while maintaining their independence from the diocese financially and organizationally.”

NCR’s article explains that Strickland met last year with Kari Beckman, founder of the hybrid home-school organization Regina Caeli Academy in Georgia, and she shared her idea about a Catholic center and the idea of naming it Veritatis Splendor.

Strickland and Deacon Keith Fournier, general counsel and director of deacon formation for the Diocese of Tyler told her they had discussed the concept, Veritatis Splendor.

On the Veritatis Splendor website, the project is described as a “physical and spiritual home for Christians to protect, preserve, and proclaim all of the chief truths and teachings of Christendom.”

The center is set to feature a grand oratory and seven institutes of truth professing liberal education (K-12 and university program), law, liberty, human rights, life, media and culture. An executive director will oversee each of the institutes.

Directors of the center’s institutes would live and work in the community and become missionaries in the world to teach these seven values to promote truth, goodness and beauty and in so doing, restores Christ in civilization, the center’s website states.

The center’s core values are listed as truth, obedience, fidelity, charity, hope, joy and community. The buildings will feature architecture and structure of the Italian cathedrals built in towns like Siena, Florence and Assisi.

“It will also be a place of pilgrimage for those who want to study, pray and revitalize their family and individual spiritual life,” the website description continued. “The oratory will be maintained by a community of priests who will live and remain in the community without threat of transfer or re-assignment.”

Recreational facilities for residents and guests will also include pools, archery and gun ranges, equestrian center, fishing piers, hunting areas and sports fields.

Organizers of Veritatis Splendor are also seeking donations to fund the building process with the oratory being first. The oratory will be named after St. Joseph and serve as the cornerstone of the center.

Those interested in learning more about Veritatis Splendor can visit splendorhq.com.


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I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.