Former president of Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria receives letter of warning from Board of Directors and Bishop Persico

Local News

Correction- In the opening sentence for this story, we incorrectly spelled the name of the former President of Erie’s Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria. The error has been corrected and we apologize for the mistake.

The former President of Erie’s Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Chris Hagerty, has received a stern warning from the Board of Directors and the Bishop of the Erie Catholic Diocese.

In a letter to parents sent jointly by the Boards of the Erie Catholic School System and Prep, it warns parents that Hagerty is not authorized to raise funds on behalf of Prep, Villa, or Catholic elementary schools.

The letter states that Hagerty is no longer an employee and has no approved affiliation with them.

This comes as the school board received word that Hagerty has communicated with an intention to form a non-profit controlled by him, purported to raise funds for Catholic schools in Erie County.

In the letter, Bishop Lawrence Persico is quoted saying “Mr. Hagerty has not been granted permission, nor is it likely that he will be granted permission to fundraise to benefit Catholic education in the diocese.”

Here is the complete letter

June 30, 2021

Friends,

Villa Maria Academy, Cathedral Preparatory School and Mother Teresa Academy share a combined 233 years of history providing education, spiritual growth, and character development for young people.  Likewise, the Catholic elementary schools of Erie County have served as the foundation of Catholic education in Erie County dating back to the 1800s.  One of the many things that we must do to ensure that we protect the developing core values of our students is to pay close attention to those individuals and organizations connected with the school, and ensure that the individuals and organizations who work, consult, and engage with the school not only uphold those core values, but also are fully aligned with the best interests of our schools.

It has come to our attention that numerous members of our school community (staff, parents, donors, students and others) have received a communication from former Erie Catholic Preparatory School (“ECPS”) President Chris Hagerty, indicating that he is forming a non-profit organization called the Loyal and True Foundation which would be controlled by Mr. Hagerty and which would purportedly benefit Cathedral Prep, Villa Maria Academy, Mother Teresa Academy, and the Catholic elementary schools in Erie County.  We wish to address this action by Mr. Hagerty in the clearest possible language.

Mr. Hagerty is not an employee of either ECPS or the Erie Catholic School System (“ECSS”), which operates the Catholic elementary schools in Erie County.  Mr. Hagerty has no approved affiliation whatsoever with the schools that he has suggested he is representing through this proposed foundation.  ECSS, ECPS and the Diocese of Erie expressly reject any suggestion that Mr. Hagerty is authorized to create a fundraising entity on their behalf.  Bishop Persico, on behalf of the Diocese of Erie, stated: “Mr. Hagerty has not been granted permission, nor is it likely that he will be granted permission in the future to fundraise or create or direct foundations which purport to benefit Catholic education in the diocese.”  To be absolutely clear, neither ECSS nor ECPS have any plans to engage with Mr. Hagerty or any foundation with which Mr. Hagerty is affiliated, nor will ECPS or ECSS accept any donations which are funneled through any such entity.  In this regard, legal counsel for ECPS had previously communicated to Mr. Hagerty that he was not authorized to use our school’s names, colors, or logos, or to in any manner represent that he was acting on behalf of ECPS.  Likewise, representatives of both ECSS and ECPS had previously advised Mr. Hagerty that neither ECSS or ECPS would be supportive of any organization which he controlled, and which would have the practical effect of causing confusion among donors.  It is regrettable that Mr. Hagerty has chosen to ignore these clear communications, and has thereby forced ECSS, ECPS and the Diocese of Erie to consider its legal options in light of these actions.

Our schools, collectively and collaboratively, are devoted to providing the young people and families that we serve with leaders that are examples of good character and moral integrity.  We remain focused on setting the bar high for the young people in our school family, and for operating in a way that is beyond reproach.  As always, the Board of Directors of both ECSS and ECPS thank you for your support and understanding. 

Sara Kallner, Chairwoman                                                         John Blakeslee, Chairman

ECPS Board of Directors                                                           ECSS Board of Directors

Attorney John Mizner, on behalf of Chris Hagerty and his foundation, has issued the following statement.

“The Board of Directors of the Loyal and True Foundation are saddened and disappointed with the reaction by the Boards of Prep/Villa and the Erie Catholic School System to a nonprofit organization that wishes to generously support their respective missions. In the best interest of current and prospective students and families, the Foundation requests that all parties involved prayerfully reflect on what truly is in the very best interest for the mission. The purpose of Loyal and True Foundation is to ensure that a faith-based and academically rigorous education remains accessible to all families who desire such for their children and it is unwavering in our commitment to that end.”

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