Legion Of Christ, Southern Catholic Formalize Ties
Published: August 6, 2009
DAWSONVILLE—A Legion of Christ priest is nominated to be the next president of Southern Catholic College as the religious order takes over the private college.
Legion of Christ Father Shawn Aaron is to be the college’s next president, pending approval of the college’s board of directors. He replaces outgoing founding president Jeremiah Ashcroft, who is retiring.
The appointment comes after the religious order and the board in July agreed the college, which opened in 2005, would become a Legion institution.
In April, the Legion and the school signed an agreement that called for greater collaboration between the campus and the religious order. In July, the new identity of the college was announced.
“This is a great step for Southern Catholic and, we hope, for Catholic higher education in North America,” said Ashcroft. The college will have the opportunity to attract students from across the country and develop programs with institutions around the world with the Legion’s leadership, he said.
It would be the first time Father Aaron has led a college.
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to serve the students and faculty of Southern Catholic, and want to continue the great work started by Dr. Ashcroft,” said Father Aaron in a statement.
“In its short history, Southern Catholic College already has established itself as an outstanding academic institution grounded in the Catholic faith. I hope to do everything I can to build on that tradition,” he said.
“I’m also looking forward to becoming part of the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s presbyterate. I have heard many good things about this archdiocese, which has been blessed with rapid growth and I look forward to working with the dedicated priests who have made that growth possible,” he said.
The Legion of Christ statement said the priest holds degrees in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, Rome, Italy, and has served on the boards of Legion-affiliated schools, worked as a retreat director and leader of national evangelization efforts and was involved in development efforts for the Legion in North America.
“I believe Father Aaron is the ideal person to lead Southern Catholic,” said Father Scott Reilly, L.C., territorial director for the Legion. “He brings a broad educational and work experience to the position—and ample enthusiasm.”
A native of Modesto, Calif., Father Aaron joined the Legion in 1991 and was ordained a priest in Rome in 2002.
Southern Catholic College is a coeducational liberal arts college, Georgia’s first and only residential Catholic college. It has more than 200 students from 25 states on its campus in Dawsonville, an hour north of Atlanta.
The Legion of Christ, a worldwide religious congregation founded in 1941, operates 15 universities, 50 institutes of higher education and 176 schools.