As much as I enjoyed the Thanksgiving weekend, especially with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, and their three children here with me, I was very preoccupied.
Because I knew that Monday would bring very somber news: 26 of our beloved schools could no longer make it, and would be prepared for closing in June after this school year.
I dread this! I’d rather be opening new schools, not closing some! Those poor children, teachers, parents, parishes, and high schools! They love their schools! They fight hard to make them work! Some have just settled into these schools after the previous closing of others. This is very sad . . .
No denying it . . . yes, it is very sad, for all of us, me included. It’s bad news.
So, I try to concentrate on the good news, as clouded as it might be by the somberness of the closings.
For one, these tough decisions were long in coming, after over a year of study, discussion, consultation, and debate by priests, parents, and experts close to the scene.
Two, we did everything we could, with the archdiocese alone investing tens of millions of dollars into the schools, in addition to grants from generous parishes, benefactors, and parents sacrificing to pay tuition.
Three, and very importantly, near-by every sadly closed school is another splendid Catholic school, with room, eager to welcome every student from a closing school, with counselors from our school office ready to expedite this transfer.
Four, our long range plan, Pathways to Excellence, continues. Remember when this promising project began three years ago, we were candid with you that we would face two sets of school closings, since, sadly, “the vine must be pruned if it is to grow.” The first wave of closings came two years ago, and now, grimly, we face the ones announced yesterday.
Five, though, this should be it! While I can’t promise you that, in the future, a school might have to close, I can at least tell you that we envision no more “Black Mondays” like yesterday when we have to announce dozens of them.
Finally, keep the goal in mind: a strong, vibrant system of excellent Catholic schools, accessible and available to all our children, continuing the two-century legacy of private, faith-based, character-forming education, with a track record the envy of all!
To those tearful over the closings — and I include myself — I say, “I am very sad and sorry your own school, after a valiant effort by so many, can no longer make it. Thank you for your devotion. But, do not be afraid! While your own beloved school might not be open next September, our Catholic schools will, and there is a desk for you! The address of your school might change; the quality and welcome of a new one will not.”