Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Also note the related post regarding higher CMA assessments placed upon parishes that lost their schools.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Parents are packing their children's bags and getting them ready for the first day of classes but not everyone is excited. Some parents we spoke with today are still upset with the Rochester Catholic Diocese. One Catholic school parent told News 10NBC, “I'm angry and frustrated by the limited communication that comes around changes that have such a significant impact.”
Diocese spokesman Dave Kelly said that the diocese had not changed its financial aid formula, but the lower tuition has meant that less financial aid is available.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Plate collections decreased significantly over the past year. There may be several reasons, including leadership changes over the past year, Good Shepherd School closing, and the effects of the economy on our parishioners.
As plate collections decreased, expenses have risen. Diocesan bills, salaries, benefits, heating & air-conditioning, to name a few, have all increased. Expenses previously shared with Monroe County Catholic Schools are now entirely ours.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Speaking with a teacher this week, it was noted that many books, arts supplies and more were going to schools that remained open -- a worthy cause. However, it was shocking to hear what else the Our Lady of Mercy building held... boxes filled with paperwork of all sorts, including a carton of medical records from children who applied for a particular school but didn't enroll (which the teacher happened upon amidst all the other items stacked throughout the building).
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
After a very thorough review of our options, we are pleased to announce the site of St. John Bosco Schools at
Registration will be opened through our website on Friday morning, August 8th at on a first come, first serve basis. All families with children in pre-K through 6th grade are encouraged to register as soon as may be. More information will be forthcoming very soon.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
First, the "Sad Saga" blog is not disappearing. I'll keep it active as a resource for all the other Catholics around the U.S. facing similar school closing situations, and for the members of the Diocese of Rochester, who may be encouraged to ask much harder questions of Bishop Clark and his staff, as well as scrutinize the diocesan finances. The mismanagement of the school system is but a symptom of much larger ills.
Second, many of you have asked what my family's plans entail. We made the decision this past week to remove our children from the MCCS system, and to place them into public school. While this was made in part on geography (we're soon moving to a town even more distant from a Catholic school that remains, with the benefit of an outstanding small public school district), it was also based on principle. The incompetence of the MCCS administration, its unwillingness to engage parents and school staff in the search for viable solutions, and its unending secrecy and silence on the matter is -- quite simply -- inexcusable. These are not the values that we want our children to learn. While the Catholic school to which we had obtained slots is wonderful in its own right, we could not overlook that it too was governed by the individuals directly responsible for this year's closures. The outlook for the broader system, in my view, is grim at best.
Third, some of you have asked for my views on Bishop Clark specifically. I have met the Bishop, and I truly believe he is a man of God. That said, based on the experiences of the past few months, I do not believe him to be an effective leader. Yes, a leader should make sometimes drastic, harsh decisions, even in the face of massive criticism. But at the same time, that same leader should be among his flock, working hand-in-hand with them to search for alternate solutions, explaining his decision pathways, and always, always listening. Likewise, a leader should replace or re-educate staff whose poor decisions are at the root of an issue. Bishop Clark exhibited none of these qualities; instead, he hoped prayed that the matter would simply disappear with time. So, should he step down or be removed? That's up to a higher authority, but I can only share my strong belief that in light of the schools situation, he is certainly not fit to lead Rochester's Catholics at this time.
Lastly, I want to thank all of you -- the parents, administrators, teachers, staff, family members, community members, and blog readers who kept us going through this difficult time. Because of you, I am certain that no matter the path we all choose to take, our children will be well prepared for success. Remember that throughout this ordeal, the focus has been singular -- it's been about the children.
Also, I'd like to give thanks to the members of the Rochester news media, who continued to dig for the truth even when it was evident that diocesan officials would stonewall to the best of their abilities. A special thanks goes out to Jeff Blackwell, whose 10-part multimedia series on Good Shepherd School was orchestrated with professionalism, humility, and compassion.
It has been my pleasure to help bring life to your passion on this issue, and I wish you only the best.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
One alumnus said Barrese-Frame will always have his respect. After the May 31 anniversary Mass, Robert Caulkins of Henrietta, Class of 1991, said he thinks of Barrese-Frame’s science classes when remembering his favorite times at Good Shepherd. "She always had a great spirit about how she taught the class," he said.
Barrese-Frame said she will miss being an educator. "I totally, absolutely, positively love it," she said. "I do, and I am so disappointed that I can’t do this anymore."
Sister Lurz has overseen construction of that city, so to speak, in a variety of ways: encouraging her students to thank God for things they might otherwise have taken for granted, such as their gift of sight or the ability to smell freshly cut grass; developing a relationship with God by learning to talk to him but also keeping in mind "that listening is an important part of prayer"; and remembering "that God loves them more than anyone." She said that students have readily picked up on these points, with many of them being eager to lead morning prayer over the school's public-address system.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Mark Peterson fully intends to send his 4-year-old daughter, Liann, to Catholic kindergarten this fall. Peterson, president of Greater Rochester Enterprise, is among a handful of parents and local leaders looking to make that possible. "We want her in a traditional Catholic school where she's going to get daily religious education instruction, to be able to live her faith, in addition to having the very best that education can provide," he said.
News 10 NBC also carried coverage based on the recent Fairport-ER post article.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Joseph Indelicato of Rochester, president of the Catholic Education Foundation, said the parents of 80 to 100 children have expressed an interest in enrolling their children at the St. John Bosco Schools, which is named after the saint called the “father and teacher of youth.”
Friday, July 11, 2008
Willkens Leach's gregarious personality might be just what the doctor ordered. She said it's important to restore confidence in Catholic schools and the Rochester Diocese, though "I appreciate the (negative) emotions that are still there."
Monday, July 7, 2008
We hope everyone’s summer is off to a great start. We have made great progress in our efforts to open St. John Bosco Schools in the Fall of 2008, and would like to share with you the answers to some of the questions that we get from parents and supporters. At your convenience, please consider the notes below. We will make it a point to issue weekly updates from this point forward, and post these notes to the Newsletter section of our website, so please check your email and/or the website periodically to stay in the loop.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us by phone at
Is this initiative still a “maybe”?
NO. St. John Bosco Schools WILL open in the Fall of 2008. We are committed to opening the school, regardless of whether there are 10 students or 100 students.
How can I help?
The most important form of help anyone can offer is PRAYER. Secondly, if you have not already, please complete the Statement of Strong Interest online at www.johnboscoschools.org. This form is non-binding, and will remain confidential, but it will help our planning efforts to have more complete numbers to work with. The Statement of Strong Interest form will remain open on the St. John Bosco Schools site through Sunday, June 29th. Thirdly, you can spread the word!
What is new with the effort?
* We have received a statement of strong interest from the parents of over 60 children in the early elementary years (K-5).
* The feedback that we have received since our June 11th meeting has convinced us to pursue a Pre-K option for the school, which we would expect to fill.
* SJBS has retained a grant-writer who has already begun work.
* We have completed a draft of the by-laws to govern the school, which we will submit for Board approval as soon as it convenes.
* We anticipate filing our Certificate of Incorporation with the New York Department of State within the next 10 days to establish SJBS as a legal entity.
* We have begun accepting resumes from interested faculty. Resumes may be sent to the attention of Mark Peterson at email@example.com; please include a cover letter describing your interest in and experience with Catholic education.
* The Steering Committee will continue to meet weekly to move along key initiatives.
Where will the school be located?
We are targeting the Fairport/Pittsford/Victor area, though we are also considering property in the Webster area. There are many factors at play in the final decision, particularly student/family location, financing, the town permit process, etc. We have scouted several locations, and will be locking down a location as soon as may reasonably be done in the long-term best interest of the school.
Will my child be able to take the bus to school?
It is too late in the season to work with the school districts on bus routes for the first year of the school. However, every effort will be made (within reason) to ensure that transportation is not an obstacle to those families seeking to be a part of the SJBS community. As part of our facilities review, we are evaluating the car-pooling / private transportation options that pertain to each location.
Will opening this school cause the remaining Diocesan schools any harm?
NO. Our aim is simply this: to provide an opportunity for an excellent academic education and spiritual formation consistent with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. We have chosen to pursue such a school now because this year’s school closings make enrollment in a Diocesan Catholic school difficult for many families. To illustrate the point, of the approximately 1,870 students whose schools closed this year, only 900 – approx. 52% - have enrolled in alternative Diocesan Catholic schools for next year (source: D&C, 6/20). We are seeking to provide an opportunity to the other 48% of students, as well as any other families that are interested in our philosophy of education (as reflected in our classical curriculum). We applaud the administrators and faculty at the schools that will remain open who are taking on the additional work generated by the influx of new students, and we sincerely pray that these institutions will flourish.
What is the relationship of SJBS with the Diocese?
We have notified the Bishop in writing of our intent to open an independent school in the Fall of 2008. We fully intend to keep him informed of our progress, and to maintain an open and positive relationship with the Diocese of Rochester. Moreover, we respect the jurisdiction of the Bishop as our local ordinary in matters relevant to instruction in the doctrines and beliefs of the Catholic Faith. However, we have no legal or financial ties to the Diocese and plan to run as an independent school. The National Association of Private Catholic* Independent Schools has agreed to serve as our mentoring institution.
What will the tuition be?
Tuition for the first year will be $1500 plus the cost of books (approx. $300-$400). Our aggressive donor-based model will raise money in many different ways: we would welcome donations from families of registered students who can afford to give more than the tuition, from past beneficiaries of an education in Catholic schools, from other individuals interested in the future success and sustainability of the educational model that is being offered at St. John Bosco Schools, and from charitable institutions with a mission to support Catholic education. We have already received substantial financial commitments from members of the
Who will be teaching my child?
We have begun to collect resumes, and have received many inquiries from teachers at closing Diocesan schools as well as a number of private schools. Critical to our faculty is the commitment to the classical philosophy of education at the core of our curriculum. All of our teachers will be in good standing with the Catholic Church, and will role model the Christian virtues as they are described in all of the Church’s Magisterial teachings. Additionally, all of our teachers will participate in the National Association of Private Catholic* Independent Schools “Teacher Certification Program,” and will strive to maintain all other appropriate certifications.
Will my child have the opportunity to attend Mass or prepare for the Sacraments?
Every effort will be made to arrange for a weekly Mass for students. Students will certainly attend Mass on Holy Days of obligation, and there is an expectation that parents will see to their attendance at Sunday Mass as well. The religious instruction will be consistent with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and we will strive to properly prepare students for the reception of the Sacraments. Ultimately, though, the Pastor of the student must decide whether he or she is ready to receive the Sacrament.
What textbooks will my child be reading?
We plan to follow the curriculum of the
When will enrollment open for St. John Bosco Schools?
We expect enrollment to open by mid-July.
Will my child need any special medical records to enroll?
Our health standards will be consistent with those put forth in the New York State Education law. Children will not be permitted to attend school without proof of receiving the required immunizations, and all students entering Kindergarten are required by law to have a physical exam. Additionally, we have a standard health appraisal form that we will distribute for all of registered students.
What about uniforms, school supplies and summer reading?
Students at St. John Bosco Schools will be required to wear uniforms. Special consideration will be given to those families that have already purchased uniforms for another institution for the first year. In addition, school supply and summer reading lists will be distributed upon enrollment.
Monday, June 30, 2008
See similar coverage from the Catholic Courier, R News and WROC-TV. The DOR news release can be read by clicking here.
Friday, June 27, 2008
How do you say goodbye to a school? At McAuley, which is closing, it has been through weeks of preparing the kids for change, comforting parents, and soothing the staff, many of whom don’t know if they will have a job in September.
Watch the companion video.
The significance of the day was still on the little ones’ minds. Children were crying at the end-of-the-year assembly and prayer service that preceded the carnival, parent Linda Pizzo said. When she walked into her twins’ fourth-grade classroom, students were all sitting in a circle, crying, while their teacher tried to encourage them that they’ll stay in touch. “There’s just not a good thing about this,” she said.
Watch the companion video.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
“It’s a truly sad day,” said 81-year-old Albert Szembrot, whose seven children all attended Good Shepherd. “They learned a lot from this school and have done well in life because of it.”
Saturday, June 21, 2008
"...we here at 13 received a letter from the Diocese that strongly warned us NOT to go to any of the schools or talk to any parents or children."
Should we have expected any less from the Diocese, still acting in secrecy, and preferring that this whole debacle just quietly go away? How disappointing.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Part 9: The Last Graduation. The final class of sixth graders graduate in the chapel in front of parents, teachers and administrators.
Part 10: The Final Days. The final days in the 50-year history of a school come to an end with great emotion and hope.
Click here for the entire series.
Emily lives with a birth defect in her leg which requires surgery from time to time, a leg brace and use of a wheelchair. Her parents met with the superintendent and assistant superintendent of Catholic schools. The Diocese came up with several options however, none of them they felt comfortable with.
“The main recommendation was a local Catholic school that's probably about 10 or 15 minutes from here. The school is on 2 levels so it would have excluded Emily from going down to lunch with all the other kids and going down into the art room,” said Wysocarski.
Democrat and Chronicle: Parents, Students Mourn Closing of 13 Catholic Schools
"The process of losing our school has been like a death," said Karen Cavacos, a Holy Cross parent who has been helping to pack up the school's library. "To see everything that has taken 100 years to put together into a school get dismantled is just heartbreaking."
Messenger-Post: Catholic Families Endure Loss -- Together
More than just hearts are breaking as the doors close forever on 13 Monroe County Catholic schools this month. For many, being forced to leave the school they’ve come to love is like a family breaking up. And like a family, when times get tough, the school family has come together to help one another cope. After passionate, but unsuccessful, appeals to keep their schools open, students, parents and staff are embracing what they can — their memories and each other.
R News: Final Day for 13 Catholic Schools
Some Holy Cross families are feeling more emotional than others as they're now dealing with their second school closing in three years. They were part of the Sacred Heart School community and believed they found stability at Holy Cross, only to be let down again. "I feel terrible,” Tina Mercendetti said cried. “(It) seems like every time my oldest is just about to get to eighth grade, here we go again.” WHAM-TV: Goodbye Holy Cross School
Students parents and teachers said goodbye to Holy Cross School Friday. They lit candles as the names of their new schools were read aloud. While most will attend other Catholic schools--a dozen will switch to public schools. Parent Tina Mercendetti says she had no choice. "We've gone through this twice before. We were at Sacred Heart until it closed and then we came here…I have to be honest, I can't do this to my kids anymore."
R News: Last Day of School at St. Boniface
How long has the St. Boniface Church operated a school in Rochester’s South Wedge? 147 years. On Friday, it was not an easy last day of classes on the school's final day of operation. Mrs. Taylor's third graders drew their favorite memories of the school on the sidewalk in front of St. Boniface.
WROC-TV: Area Catholic Schools Close Their Doors for Good
Friday was marked by many Catholic schools in Monroe County as they finish up their school year and close their doors for good. Bishop Matthew Clark made the decision to close 13 area Catholic schools earlier this year.
WHAM 1180 AM: Final Day for 13 Catholic Schools
Father Thomas Wheeland is the pastor at Holy Cross Church. He says the church and school had been working for the past three months preparing students for the final day. He says, "working with them trying to put a positive on it. We had a very beautiful prayer service which we lit a candle representing each of the new schools that these kids are going to."
NBC-10: Final Goodbye for Catholic School Students
Students are sharing their faith together on the last day of school. Today is the last day of classes ever at 13 Catholic schools throughout our area. It's part of the Bishop's plan to re-structure the Catholic school system.
Fairport Post: St. John of Rochester Celebrates Memories Before Closing Its Doors
The parents and teachers loved the smiles on their faces, but through it all there was a quiet sadness. It was the end of the school year and the end of St. John, after 44 years.
WHAM-TV: Last Week for 13 Catholic Schools
School’s out forever this week at 13 Rochester-area Roman Catholic schools... Many families fought the changes and tried to come up with alternatives, but the diocese ultimately stayed true to its original plan.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Parish members will pay their respects to the school and add a message of hope for the future. They will hold a Mass of Hope at 2:30 p.m. this Sunday, June 22, in front of the school. Students, teachers past and present, alumni, and friends of Holy Cross School have been invited to the special outdoor service. The Mass, said school spokeswoman Karen Cavacos, is meant to celebrate the 110 years during which the school — known as the Beacon of Hope — has brought the Light of Christ to the Charlotte community. The historic Rochester Genesee Lighthouse is right behind the church and school.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I'm so glad Mark Hare had a grand old time carrying pieces of Sacred Heart Cathedral's new $1.5 million organ into the church (column, June 12). Some of us don't share his enthusiasm for this instrument. We've been comforting children and trying to make sure the last two weeks in their Catholic school are memorable. We've been working on special gifts for the teachers to try and convey just how much they are valued. We've been planning for the future of our parish and its programs.
Hare muses, "sounds will comfort ... for decades to come." Who will be touched in this way? Children who will no longer be educated in the Catholic tradition? Teachers who were shown the door? Parents who worked tirelessly to support their schools and to pay tuition? No, Mr. Hare, this Catholic will just hear sadness that in this diocese one of God's greatest gifts, our children, is less important than that instrument you carried.
—MICHELE BEGEMANN, GREECE
A group of 14 cousins from the Tachin, Swan and Nasca families shared breakfast together Friday before catching to bus to Holy Cross School. Their thoughts are on next Friday when their school closes for good.
"I think I'll be sad but I will live through it,” said Jori Tachin. "I don't understand why the school is closing…I’m really upset.” It isn't any easier on their parents. Holy Cross has been part of the Tachin family since 1932.
Students, teachers, alumni, and friends of Holy Cross School are invited to an outdoor "Mass of Hope" at 2:30 p.m. next Sunday, in front of the school. Holy Cross School is among 13 Catholic schools to be closed by the Diocese of Rochester this month. The Mass will celebrate the school's 110 years.
Memorabilia from past decades will be on display in the school cafeteria and the adjacent Holy Cross Parish Gift Shop will be selling Holy Cross apparel and souvenirs.In the event of rain, the Mass will be at Holy Cross Church, 4488 Lake Ave.
While Father Michael Mayer acknowledged sadness at the closing of St. Andrew School, he called on his parish to continue the school’s legacy of reaching out to its neighbors.
"This is not a celebration of an ending, but a continuation of a call from Christ to preach the Gospel," the priest said in his homily June 8, noting that the parish's neighborhood-outreach programs to youths, such as a teen drop-in center and a summer basketball camp, will continue.
The homily was part of a Mass and reception designed to celebrate the history of the school at 901 Portland Ave. For months, St. Andrew has been celebrating its students and its history before it closes at the end of June along with 12 other diocesan-operated schools in Monroe County, Principal Tracy Nadler said.
For the more than 100 Holy Family School students playing kickball, relay games and Frisbee at the Campbell Street Community Center June 11, it was just like every annual end-of-the-year field day.
"We're celebrating our time together and all that we've enjoyed over the year," noted Principal Mary Ellen Wagner.
Smiles abounded as the students relished being outside in the sunshine and playing with friends. Yet it was a bittersweet celebration, parents and students in attendance noted, as the event also marked the final field day for Holy Family. The school, now more than 140 years old, will close at month's end, along with 12 other diocesan-operated Catholic schools in Monroe County.
For many alumni, St. Boniface School is much more than just a building in which they learned about reading, writing and arithmetic. It was a place where they felt loved and accepted; a place that prepared them for the rest of their lives; a place they could call home.
"It's still home," alumna Marilyn Krepps told the Catholic Courier June 8.
Krepps, who graduated from the school in 1954, had gathered at St. Boniface Church with other alumni and current students, faculty and parents for the school's closing Mass. They tried to focus on the good that came from St. Boniface's 147 years of operation rather than dwell on their sorrow that the school -- along with 12 other diocesan schools in Monroe County -- will close at month's end.
Participants filled the Lake Avenue sidewalk as they shouted, sang and waved to cars while getting plenty of honks in return. Upon arriving at the park's picnic pavilion, they were treated to a hot-dog lunch and bottled water on a blisteringly hot day.
It was one of the more uplifting events for Holy Cross following the diocese's January announcement that the 110-year-old school -- along with 12 other diocesan Catholic schools in Monroe County -- will close at the end of this month due to declining enrollment and rising costs.
"It's bittersweet. It really shows that we can pull together as a community," said 14-year-old Bridget Morgan, a member of Holy Cross' final graduating class, as the picnic neared its conclusion.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
From the post: But in terms of actual CMA pledges the differences were even more striking. Parishes where schools are staying open pledged an average of 98% more than those whose schools will be closed. Here the total dollar difference between the two groups was almost $444,000.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
As parents, students, teachers, coaches and alumni gathered in the gymnasium at All Saints Catholic Academy June 8, the sports banquets wasn’t the only thing on their minds. In one month, the school will close its doors forever. "It was just a safe place you could send your child and you knew they were going to get a very good, well-rounded education,” said parent Carolyn Roorda. “They learn about respect, they learn maturity and they grow up before your very eyes in two years.”
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
They built the church mighty tall,
Nothing but the best, wall-to-wall,
They wanted a place to treasure,
To hold dear,
Money is no problem, have no fear,
Even the organ must be first class,
A million and a half and that’s no laugh
Then it was done, how proud they must be,
To have built a church for all to see,
But here and there, across the street,
Around the town,
First by leaps, then by bounds,
The schools were gone,
One by one,
No children to come to worship the Son,
No young voices to be raised in praise,
To fill that church in coming days,
So the organ plays year after year,
But now there are fewer and fewer
ears to hear,
They built the church mighty tall,
They did not build the children,
The real treasure after all.
According to the story "The Holy Family School will also close this month under a decision announced in January by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester. The school, church and other Holy Family Church properties will be put up for sale."
One wonders if the proceeds of the sale will be designated to help stabilize the rest of the Catholic school system...
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
"In January, Bishop Matthew Clark of the Diocese of Rochester announced the diocese would close 13 area Catholic schools in June, citing a sharp decline in enrollment and a significant budget shortfall. At the time of Clark’s announcement, diocese officials estimated that 48 percent of the students enrolled in the closing schools would enroll in other Catholic schools. However, those figures appear to be drastically underestimated."
From the story: Mary O'Keefe, whose eight children attended St. Charles Borromeo in the 1960s and 1970s, was at the open house reconnecting with many alumni. O'Keefe, of Greece, was a volunteer at the school for many years, she said, working as a lunch and exam monitor. She said all her children have good jobs now because of the education they received at St. Charles.
"It was a good school. ... It's a shame that kids won't (be able to) come here anymore," O'Keefe said.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Messenger-Post: Saying Goodbye to a Place of Memories (St. Margaret Mary)
Catholic Courier: Schools Plan End-of-Year Events
Messenger-Post: Supporters of St. John's Want to Open New School
Democrat and Chronicle: Rochester Catholic School Plans 12-Hour Day
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Read the letter from organizers by clicking here.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Read Part I
Read Part II
Thursday, May 22, 2008
An excerpt: We will be done with school in less than 1 month. It's hard to believe. My kids ( 6 year olds) have been quite vocal about the school closing. A little boy stated that 'as soon as Graduation is done, my school will close.' He started crying and I tried to reassure him and the others that things would be all right.
Visit the St. John Bosco School site here.
Monday, May 19, 2008
The Diocese has said that Catholic schools questions may be re-routed to the schools office (i.e., "we're not going to share any new information, so don't ask."). However, if you've already taken that route with no or incomplete resolution, or if you'd like to inquire as to how the Diocese values Catholic education as a ministry versus its other commitments, you may want to place a call. If you do, please leave a comment here on your experience.