The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (III)


Read part one here, and part two here.

Grant Gallicho August 29, 2014

Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity knew it would be a tough sell. He wanted Jeffrey Bond to help build his dreamed-of Catholic liberal-arts college. Bond had moved to Shohola, Pennsylvania, in 1999 to be near the Society of St. John, soon after it had acquired property there. But he already had a job teaching at a New Jersey high school. And Urrutigoity’s offer was hardly a no-brainer. It’s hard enough to run a college that already has buildings and students. The College of St. Justin Martyr, as it would be called, had neither.

Urrutigoity assured Bond that the Society would provide the necessary funds—by covering tuition for its members and by raising money for the college until it could stand on its own, according to sworn testimony Bond would later give. (A chronology prepared by the SSJ claimed Urrutigoity “warned” Bond about the group’s “difficult financial position.”) Nevertheless, Bond, who had taught at Thomas Aquinas College, a conservative great-books school in California, found the idea intriguing. He would develop the school’s theoretical framework, hire its faculty, and oversee its educational mission—all under the spiritual care of priests committed to the “restoration of the traditional Catholic liturgy and civilization,” as a Society of St. John mailer put it. So Bond took the job. His career with the SSJ began on April 1, 2000. It would be a short honeymoon.

Bond and a few others incorporated the college separately in August 2000. The idea was to start by teaching SSJ novices, eventually developing the institution into a four-year college open to the public. By mid-October, SSJ postulants began taking a full course load taught by seven professors, including Nestor Sequeiros, who was brought over from Argentina to teach Latin. His reputation preceded him.

“Long before Mr. Sequeiros arrived…we had heard Society members speak of his awesome abilities, penetrating intellect, and academic prowess,” according to a 2001 letter Bond wrote (with Fr. Richard Munkelt) to auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty of Scranton. He was so smart, rumor had it, that he had two PhDs. Sequeiros, who had taught Urrutigoity years before, was supposedly working on an “entirely new method of teaching Latin based on the liturgy” that would restore the language to “the center of Catholic life and thereby launch the Society into renown and glory,” Bond and Munkelt wrote. “Imagine our surprise,” the letter continued, when Sequeiros arrived and proved “unable to communicate effectively in English.”

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