Written by Bill Leighty
As practicing Catholics in Tulsa dating back to the mid ‘70s our family were members of one of our city’s oldest parishes and our children attended its K-8 parish school. As they advanced we presumed they would go on to attend Bishop Kelley, our Diocesan-sponsored Lasallian High School.
Growing up in Tulsa I was aware of Cascia Hall, the Augustinian college preparatory school founded in 1926, and operating for many years as an all-boys boarding school. I had quite a few high school friends who attended Cascia and received an excellent education. In those days there was a perception among many that Cascia was elitist and financially out of reach for most middle income families. For that reason it never occurred to us that Cascia would be an option for our children.
Facing declining enrollment and spiraling costs during the mid ‘80s, Cascia was perilously close to closing its doors when the decision was made to go co-ed and open a middle school. The transition was made possible by the enormous financial contributions of long-time Cascia supporters who believed in the school’s mission.
A student recruiting campaign got underway and midway through my daughter’s 7th grade year at Marquette School, we received an invitation to attend an open house and learn more about Cascia’s new energy and new direction. I would have dismissed it outright save the small print at the bottom of the invitation including words to the effect: “limited financial assistance available for qualified students.”
My wife, Bonnie, was out of town at the time and I attended the open house alone. In retrospect, that day turned out to be a turning point in the life of our family. It was then that I was first introduced to the Augustinian values of Truth, Unity, and Love and the Augustinian concept of educating young people in a community environment, focusing on academics while maintaining a balance of spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological growth.
That day I became “marked for life” and my family soon followed. We applied for admission for our daughter. She was accepted and received a generous financial assistance package. Even with the help it was a struggle at times to cover our end of the costs. So, Bonnie began working at Cascia to help with the expenses and she has continued to work there for the better part of the last 25 years, in a variety of positions.
We still support our local neighborhood parish. At the same time it is difficult to put into words the profound impact that the Midwest Augustinian Province’s ministry and mission through Cascia Hall has had on our lives. We are embedded in Augustinian values and culture; it is literally a part of our family’s DNA. We have been and continue to be enormously blessed and “marked for life.”