Thomas U of St. Paul, the one that is in the process of freeing itself from the control of the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis, is requiring that the American Chesterton Society start paying for room rent and overpriced staff for its 12th Annual Conference this weekend. Up until now, the conference has been free and open to the public.
Good times ending for the Chesterton Society at St. Thomas
For a decade, aficionados of the early 20th century writer G.K. Chesterton have gathered at the University of St. Thomas for a conference billed as a "great time for arguing and agreeing, eating and drinking and being stimulated by the ringing words of the writer who challenged us to 'break the conventions and keep the commandments.'"
But the good times are apparently over for the Chestertons at St. Thomas. Some of them are now ripping the university for what they see as heavy-handed rules laid down for this weekend's conference.
Those include requiring St. Thomas staff serve the homemade wine and beer that's a staple of the Chesterton conference, a cost society president Dale Ahlquist said effectively kills the event in the future. Chestertons also object to St. Thomas security needing to be present at all gatherings and St. Thomas requiring a fence around the group's' outdoor "afterglow" cigar-and-nightcap gathering on Foley Plaza.
Some Chestertons are now urging Archbishop Nienstedt weigh in on the matter. At least one believes it's part of a concerted effort to drive the "fundamentalist" Chestertons off the St. Thomas campus.
The university today said it actually waived the conference's $5,700 facility use fee this year because its Center for Catholic Studies was a co-sponsor.
The policies for the Chestertons are no more restrictive than for any event on campus when alcohol is served and minors are present, it added, and reflect the university's "concerns about underage drinking and respect for its neighbors."
St. Thomas has had its share of controversies over the past year. This one's unique. We'll cross our fingers that the Chestertons don't rumble this weekend with St. Thomas security. Pioneer Press blog report