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Steve Adubato, Jr., Fr. Edwin Leahy, OSB, and filmmakers Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno

WBGO's Doug Doyle, filmmakers Jerome & Marylou Bongiorno, and Fr. Albert Holtz, OSB

Bryan Jenkins and filmmakers Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno

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Marylou and Jerome receive

The New Jersey Historical Commission

Award of Recognition

for Outstanding Service

to Public Knowledge and

Preservation of the

History of New Jersey


Filmmakers Marylou and Jerome Bongiorno are recognized for their significant role in producing public history documentaries that engage the public in critical thinking about tumultuous times in New Jersey’s past. The Bongiornos’ trilogy of films on urban America encourage viewers to consider the importance of studying events in state history that are linked to the nation’s social and political history. In Revolution ’67, which analyzes the outbreak of the Newark Riots, the filmmakers consider the event a cultural and social revolution demonstrative of a massive decline in civic order. The Rule explores the success of Newark Abbey and its school, St. Benedict’s Prep, as a model for inner cities that provides valuable insights into American religious, immigration, educational, and metropolitan history. The final film in the trilogy, [upcoming] Rust, examines the decline of America's industrial urban centers. These films have been widely shown and continue to foster dialogue about social, ethnic, and economic tensions in our state’s and nation’s history.

REVOLUTION ’67 Press../REVOLUTION_67/Press_Podcasts.html
NEW WORK: Art in 3D Press../NEW_WORK__NEWARK_IN_3D/Press.html

THE RULE is a terrific film about an inspiring school in the heart of Newark. It shows how an urban high school can succeed against the odds. A MUST SEE movie!!”

                                                                                           Steve Adubato, Ph.D., Emmy Award Winning Anchor, WNET & NJTV (PBS)

Steve Adubato goes on-location to the Montclair Film Festival, where he talks to Newark residents and filmmaking team Marylou and Jerome Bongiorno about their documentary-in-progress, "The Rule", covering the success of Newark Abbey and its school, St. Benedict’s Prep.

Marylou receives proclamation from Newark City Hall

THE RULE (2014)  Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School, a high school in Newark, New Jersey, run by the Benedictine monks of Newark Abbey, has recorded a near 100 percent college-acceptance rate for their predominantly African American and Latino young men -- a rate that soars well above the average for the city. Filmmakers Marylou and Jerome Bongiorno profile the school and the monks to learn how and why they achieve what they do.

“Incredibly involving and moving and uplifting. And, if you care about the heartbreaking and intractable problems facing America’s poor and oftentimes minority youth, it’s instructive...Watch The Rule. It’ll make you laugh and cry and think differently.”

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WBGO Journal

Episode: 2014-09-26: Interview with Father Edwin Leahy

A Flexible Fix

In impoverished Newark, NJ, where fewer than one in four students

graduates high school, almost 100 percent of kids at St. Benedict’s Prep go

directly to college. Although academic requirements are stringent, the

headmaster sums up the school’s philosophy in a single word: flexibility.

Meet the monks of Newark

Abbey who sustain this

remarkable story of success

and see how their ingenious

application of the sixth century

rule of St. Benedict

may serve as a model for

schools nationwide.

The Rule

“A must-see -- inspiring, witty and engaging… for a filmgoer entertaining; to watch it as an educator is revelatory.”

National PBS websites


PBS film website

PBS Pressroom

Kresta in the Afternoon

November 14. 2014

We meet with filmmakers Jerome and Marylou Bongiorno to discuss the making of their film and the influence of St. Benedict on the school’s success.

37% of Oscar-Submitted Documentaries Directed by Women including Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno of The Rule

"The film doesn't flinch when it shows how the demographics changed Newark over the years, how the riots decimated neighborhoods, how poverty, drugs and the seventh highest murder rate in the country make it difficult to raise children."

“[The film] is an excellent example of the practical application of the Rule

that is part of our own charism and an inherent part of Benedictine DNA.”

“The conference will focus in large part on the educational innovations that have brought about continued growth in St. Benedict’s Preparatory School, Newark, under the direction of Father Edwin Leahy. The school’s philosophy, “Anything that hurts my brother, hurts me,” has become a central part of the school’s mission, and the institution has come to be seen as a model for urban educational reform.”

Catholic Campus Ministry at Princeton University.

“This uplifting film offers hope for inner-city youth and is highly recommended for all audiences, especially educators and aspiring educators.”

Starred Review

2.3.15 Broadcast Message to Superintendents in NJ 

“The film details how this rule can serve as a model for urban education nationwide”

In Newark, New Jersey, a city struggling with poverty, crime, and low academic performance, a school for boys led by Benedictine monks has helped 95 percent of its senior class go on to college by emphasizing personal responsibility, Christian community, and the Rule of St. Benedict.

see it on:

  1. TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY is developing “a study guide for policymakers and educational practitioners for the landmark documentary film, THE RULE.”

  1. “We very much look forward to working with this film as one vehicle for urban school reform.”

  1. “THE RULE brilliantly connects multiple audiences from varying backgrounds and points of view to issues of urban school reform in the public sector."

Here’s what Dr. Anand R. Marri of  TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY has to say about THE RULE:

Guided by the Rule of Saint Benedict

The success of Father Edwin Leahy ’68 in running Saint Benedict’s Prep in Newark has generated national attention and inspired a new documentary.

Magis Medal Winner: 

Jerome Bongiorno and Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno

Monks and Inner-City Youth

“This documentary makes the point, very clearly, that this school is built on the wisdom and insight of The Rule of St. Benedict,”

“A solid case study of an educational model for at-risk

kids that seems to be working. Recommended.”

"Magis invites us to serve the world better, with fire, passion, and zeal to better glorify or serve God."

They watched a PBS documentary called “The Rule,” which chronicles the success story of St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in a rough, low-income neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. There, the students run the day-to-day business of the school — they call assemblies, make announcements, make decisions about how the school operates, and keep each other in check and in line. The film resonated with [Johnson High School students].

...“We don’t ask enough of our students,” [Principal Micheal Thompson] said.

Reduce Poverty in Inner Cities:  Marylou & Jerome Bongiorno at TEDxNJIT

“From education to religion to social justice issues and more, these leaders have raised the bar in countless fields and are making a substantial impact on the world.”

"We will find ways to educate, empower and engage anyone...

to listen to stories of unparalleled excellence.”

Hungary Public TV

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THE RULE inspires a 60 Minutes episode

THE RULE inspires a 60 Minutes episode