Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy is located on eighteen acres in east central Illinois, the center of America’s farmland. The campus has always been used for academic or religious purposes. Built by local Protestant ministers 100 years ago as a college, the Church of the Nazarene eventually operated it as Olivet Nazarene College. After a devastating fire in 1939 in which the main campus building was destroyed, the college was moved to Kankakee, IL.
In 1939 a Polish province of the Missionaries of La Salette arrived in the United States when they were expelled from Poland during the invasion of World War II. The Fathers established a minor seminary and novitiate. In 1952, in honor of the centenary of their Order, they built the church, a replica of the Basilica in France at the site of the apparition. Many improvements were made by the La Salette Fathers to the existing campus, which now included a gymnasium, a small and separate dormitory, farmland, a heating plant, several houses, and surrounding acreage.
Due to dwindling enrollment, the seminary and novitiate were closed by 1974. All the surrounding land was sold to local farmers. The property was used as a retreat center until 1987 when the decision was made to move the base of operations to the Order’s facility in Twin Lakes, WI. The property sat unused until 2003 when it was purchased for the opening of Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy—the successor to St. Joseph’s Academy, which had been located in Michigan.
Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy opened with a Solemn High Mass and an enrollment of fifty-one students in September, 2005. A new academic building was completed in 2009. Presently the enrollment stands at around ninety students, with many enquiries arriving each week for next year’s applications.