Sweeping changes at Regina Caeli after scandal

After bombshell revelations about an illicit relationship between board members and possible financial misconduct, there’s massive restructuring afoot at Regina Caeli Academy, and the organization will undergo a forensic audit, the board announced early this morning.

Rich Beckman, the husband of disgraced founder and former Executive Director of Regina Caeli and Veritatis Splendor Kari Beckman, has resigned, and Nicole Juba is now the Executive Director.

The Board said in a letter to RCA families and staff:

“The Board will initiate an independent forensic audit to determine if there were any financial irregularities and take appropriate actions based on those findings.”

The changes they’ve announced are making some parents consider coming back to Regina Caeli. 

“If they do what they say they’ll do, I’ll be a happy camper,” said Debbie Sercely, a Texas mother of three and former RCA tutor.

Sercely quit Regina Caeli when the homeschool hybrid academy abruptly announced their affiliation with the utopian megadevelopment Veritatis Splendor

“The biggest problem I had was with their financial opacity. There wasn’t a lot of clarity about where the money [for Veritatis Splendor] was going to come from or how it was going to be spent. There was a lot of, ‘It’s all part of RCA, so it’ll be fine,’ Well, no,” Sercely said.

RCA had been accused, in an anonymous letter to the board and in a formal complaint sent to the IRS, of financial misconduct. It charged that, while she headed Regina Caeli, Executive Director Kari Beckman used Regina Caeli as her personal bank account, used RCA funds for Veritatis Splendor expenses without the knowledge or consent of donors, required RCA employees to work for Veritatis Splendor, and made personal use of a luxury home and vehicle paid for by Regina Caeli funds while promoting Veritatis Splendor. Regina Caeli was listed as a parent company of Veritatis Splendor, and the finances of the two organizations were apparently merged, although the Veritatis Splendor project is a planned community that did not and would not benefit the homeschool hybrid academy in any way.

The purchase for the land on which Veritatis Splendor was to be built was made with a loan from James Faber, a Regina Caeli board member. According to the letter from the board, Faber has been named the new interim board president.

The letter states that “a generous benefactor, with full knowledge of Mrs. Beckman’s situation, has emerged to make the separation of Regina Caeli and Veritatis Splendor (VS) a reality. ”

“This donor will be purchasing the remaining land at VS, which will provide the funds that will repay all RCA expenditures for VS. VS will become its own non-profit organization completely separate from RCA. This will relieve RCA from all financial burdens with regard to VS. This separation will allow each organization to successfully pursue its own mission. The Board is committed to providing periodic updates as to the progress of these efforts to ensure accountability and transparency,” the letter said.

More than one family expressed concerns that, even if Kari Beckman were to be removed, the current board was hand-selected by Beckman to do her bidding; but the letter says the board is soliciting nominations from families “to reconstitute the Board of Directors.” 

The letter ends:

“Regina Caeli was not built upon one person, but has continued to grow and develop by virtue of the talents and sacrifice of all our staff, families, tutors, assistants, volunteers, and, of course, our children. Regina Caeli is bigger than one person. Let this now carry us forward to sustain the mission of training the mind to form the soul.”

The IRS complaint against Regina Caeli Academy was mailed late last week. Federal law prohibits the IRS office from commenting on private taxpayer matters, but if a criminal case results from an investigation, that information will become public record.  

Sercely said she had had some hesitations about Regina Caeli when she first joined. She wasn’t happy that their history curriculum included glowing praise of Robert E. Lee, and she describes their dress code as misogynistic, focusing heavily on females covering their bodies, and ignoring the need for males to learn to control their eyes. 

“Because of that, there have definitely been some families that have hesitated about joining Regina Caeli. That was kind of a red flag,” Sercely said. 

“But I’m really hopeful that, with a significant change in leadership, we might see some real changes in some of the policies that are trying to out-Catholic the pope,” she said.

She said that the format of RCA works very well with her young family, with classroom days providing the structure and stability they need, while still allowing for flexibility and down-time. 

 
No change for Veritatis Splendor

Yesterday, Veritatis Splendor sent a letter to its mailing list reassuring “Viculus familes” that there will be no interruption in its mission. 

“We want to assure our Viculus families that the mission of Veritatis Spendor will continue without interruption, and that if anything, this shows just how important the work of this community really is. Bishop Strickland, our clergy and the seminarians are unwavering in their support for VS and have assured us that they will be united with us to keep up our fight for the good.”

The letter also informs participants of the donor referenced in the RCA board letter.  

“You should be aware that a generous benefactor, with full knowledge of Kari’s situation, has emerged in the midst of this great challenge to ensure that the plans for VS are not hindered, stalled or delayed in any way,” the Veritatis Splendor letter said. 

It is not clear how many people have actually invested in Veritatis Splendor. One purchase has been confirmed. Plots of land are available for sale for between $90,000 and $250,000. Their fundraiser, whose stated goal was $3.2 million, raised $100,128. It was last updated on April 30 with a conceptual rendering of the oratory. 

We called Bishop Strickland’s office for comment, but were told he was “not available this week” and that “nobody in the building has anything to do with Veritatis Splendor.” 

Sercely had another reason besides her financial concerns for leaving Regina Caeli, once they announced their affiliation with Veritatis Splendor. 

“The reason I will never support that cult is the permanence of the priests. There is no option to remove a priest who is abusive. It’s a breeding ground for grooming and abuse, and I will not contribute one breath of my efforts to allow other people to be abused. Not one red cent, not one nanosecond of my time,” she said. 

Sercely is referring to the fact that, in the proposed “village,” there will live a community of priests who are not subject to transfers or re-assignments,” according to the Veritatis Splendor case statement.

These priests will be Oratorians in the tradition of St. Philip Neri. Oratorians are not a religious order; they are secular priests (i.e., they have not made religious vows). Oratorians must have permission from the local bishop to found an Oratory (which is not a parish church), such as the one proposed for Veritatis Splendor; but the community of priests is relatively autonomous. They answer not to the bishop of the diocese in which they live, but to Rome. The bishop has, according to canon law, a duty to be “vigilant” about their spiritual well-being and about the effects of the community in his diocese, but the relationship between the diocese and such communities is not clearly defined. 

“With the board of directors saying Regina Caeli and Veritatis Splendaor are completely separate, I’m sobbing, I’m so grateful. We’re seriously considering coming back to Regina Caeli,” Sercely said.

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20 thoughts on “Sweeping changes at Regina Caeli after scandal”

  1. I live in walking distance of the RCA in Atlanta. I’ve been homeschooling for ten years – since my oldest was preschool age. We toured RCA a few years ago when our oldest voiced curiosity about a hybrid program. The tour was the end of it for a lot of reasons, but the intense cult-like behavior of the adults was the most of it. Additionally, I was actually told during my tour that if I was wearing shorts or a tank top in my CAR at pick up I would be sent home to change before I would be allowed to get my kids.

    I have long voiced to other local Catholics my concerns about this school, so I am not surprised by any of this.

  2. This is all like a bad, dubbed, soap opera without the stylish outfits.

    Except for John. He belongs in a thriller.

  3. We are a world of sinners, myself included. I know that no one associated with this scandal or these articles wants to hurt the families and children of Regina Caeli Academy. It is a great program that provides support to so many families, myself included.
    I proudly tutor upper school and make mistakes daily but I get up each day truly trying to glorify the Lord through this work.

    A couple things that I would like to clarify….
    1. Is it a Multi Level Marketing scheme. Absolutely not, this is the decision my family made and continue to make. I wasn’t tricked into it. I’m a mechanical engineer and have plenty of financial options but this is the ministry that I’m being called to right now. I hope I make a difference. Pray for me. I’ve seen the difference that my children’s tutors have made in their lives and I’m forever grateful. I love our community.

    2. Do we read books about Robert E. Lee? Yup. RCA is constructed as a liberal education. So through the years, students read about Robert E. Lee, Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Amos Fortune, Harriet Tubman and many other books at levels of increasing complexity as they grow. This is appropriate to understand history fully. Check out the book list, in a world that is screaming for proper instruction in history, it would be hard to argue with this robust curriculum full of nuanced characters like Julius Caesar, Cicero, Alexander the Great, Churchill, Jefferson, Columbus, Washington, Napoleon and more. I’m thrilled that my children are being introduced to history in this way.

    I know a lot of you are reading this wondering what is going to happen to RCA, but tomorrow I’m getting up and going to the center and I’m going to do my best and I know my peers will too. Pray for us. Pray for our kids. Pray for our community. Pray for our Church. God is good. All the time.

    1. Well said, Morgan. RCA has been a blessing to us and the tutors are wonderful. The curriculum is based on another wonderful Catholic Classical curriculum, Mother of Divine Grace. Blessed to have the support of RCA to continue to educate our kids in an excellent Catholic Tradition. Praying for all individuals in this situation. No doubt families are hurting from the failures of their parents, and my prayers go especially to them.

  4. I’m going to presume that you are in firsthand contact with the writer of the anonymous letter, and presume that the writer of the anonymous letter and the writer of the formal complaint to the IRS are the same person (although you don’t make that clear), and that you have reviewed both. So much trust from your devotees on your “journalism.”

    You’ve even found one person who is a former member who will make a public statement, finally. I’m sure her opinion is representative of all the diverse opinions of all the current RCA families.

    You’ve ignored my questions about the Kruse v. RCA 2016 USDC lawsuit. Do you actually know the outcome of the lawsuit, or did you just assume it was settled out of court? There is nothing online to suggest anything other than that it has been dismissed by mutual agreement of the parties.

    1. I have never heard of this writer until this article so I definitely am not a “devotee” to her journalism. I can assure you though, whether the anonymous letter writer and formal complaint were WRITTEN by the same person, there are multiple people involved behind the scenes that brought that to fruition. Many people still choose to remain anonymous for various reasons. You shouldn’t ignore the reality of the truth here just because people do not want to be publicly ousted or bring further scandal to their local friends and community for bringing to light what was happening on the larger, national scale. I still support the RCA program even if the implementation of certain policies were, say, unfortunate at best. Others will make their conclusions based on their own experiences.

      I was not involved in RCA in 2016 but joined after and I know there were many changes made regarding compensation which I can only presume now was a result of that lawsuit…whether it went to trial or settled outright, it definitely brought changes to the payment/tuition structure.

  5. The article at hand is quite imprecise with regards to the Oratorian Fathers.

    Please note that The Congregation of the Oratory is a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right. The priests associated with this project are NOT Oratorians. All Oratorian Houses belong to the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Any « Oratorian House in Formation » has to be sanctioned by our Roman Offices.

    The men of this group might be inspired by St. Philip and also aspire to become Oratorians, but they are not members of the Oratory. The article in my estimation lacks clarity in this regard.

    Let it be clear that the Oratory as such is not involved with the Veritatis Splendor project although some of the men of this group have contacted persons linked with the Oratory to understand how the Congregation of the Oratory operates.

    Fr. Michael Palud, C.O.
    Deputy of the Oratory for
    the United States and Jamaica

  6. I’m praying for the children and families hit by the full impact of this true scandal, including the Beckman’s young and grown children. They’re all in real peril of losing their faith based on this hypocritical disgusting behavior by someone who is supposed to be a true spiritual leader.

    Obviously Satan attacks those in positions of leadership hoping for exactly such an outcome. It’s devastating spiritually, on top of the devastating effects on relationships and quite possibly financial situations.

  7. Putting this type of stuff is incredibly sloppy when you know (or should know) it is NOT true:

    “The reason I will never support that cult is the permanence of the priests. There is no option to remove a priest who is abusive. It’s a breeding ground for grooming and abuse, and I will not contribute one breath of my efforts to allow other people to be abused. Not one red cent, not one nanosecond of my time.”

    As IF a priest who abused could not be removed from ministry by the local bishop immediately, are you kidding me?

    1. As someone who has gotten to deal with this debacle firsthand and has had a front row seat to others attempting to do the same…

      It is NOT that simple. I wish it was. But yeah…I’d want a protocol for that situation to be made crystal clear before I donated so much as a penny.

  8. I’m going to start a utopian community and I’m looking for some investors. It will be called, “Hopefully-slightly-better-than-average-town.” It’s actually just the neighborhood I live in and I’ll let you know when a house comes for sale.

    1. Strickland has the Faith and is a holy man. The vaxx is a blood poison. The vaxxed are dying en masse. Shea hates Goodness and spins it as evil. Vigano is telling the truth about the scamdemic. Shea can’t write a non-lie. He is the devil’s mouthpiece.

      1. Vaccinated persons are not dying en masse. Vaccination is not poison. I continue to be BAFFLED by this bullshit.

        My ICU and PCU and floor is full of unvaccinated COVID patients and my health system is bringing in FEMA staffing so we can support our ICUs. What I am reading in clinical data is reflected in my own local system.

        I don’t lie. I pride myself on my honesty and integrity. And I am exhausted.

        1. Wendy, my heart goes out to you. It’s hard enough for those of us on the sidelines to read about what you’re going through, and the misinformation that seeks to minimize it. But I can only imagine how hard it is to live this firsthand. (I’m an RN myself, but currently not working in the field due to homeschooling my son.) Thank you for all that you do and all you have to put up with.

    2. Survivor of clerical abuse living in Texas here….

      His victim’s assistance coordinator is actually a very good priest and has helped people I know who live outside of his diocese. Actual help as in canon law advice and real support. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that an actually helpful diocese with this stuff is rare as hen’s teeth.

      I know there’s issues elsewhere, but I give him serious credit for that. If nothing else, he knows how to hire good people.

    3. *Bishop* Strickland. He is a Bishop, not just a name. It is important to include both, to remind ourselves both that he is just a man, himself, but also that he is consecrated in an office that deserves our respect.

      Also, I would just like to flag this comment (both, frankly) as both ad hominem and non sequitor. Please, let’s just discuss important issues with respect and integrity.

  9. Thank you for the update, and thanks again for shedding light on the entire situation. The concept between RCA is a good one (Catholic homeschool hybrid). But the rigidity, lack of transparencey. authoritarianism and anecdotes of things like books that glorify Robert E. Lee are disturbing.

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