Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The End of the Line

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this will be the last post on the Sad Saga. The students, parents, faculty and staff of the affected schools have moved on, yet will never forget both the joys of their experiences and the sorrows of the manner in which their schools were shuttered. Thank you, and God bless.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

News 10 NBC: $3.2 Million to Close Catholic Schools

News 10 NBC obtained the 2007-2008 MCCS Financial Statements that we posted here on Sunday, and filed the following report regarding the $3.2 million spent to close area Catholic schools last year. True to form, the DOR issued a statement that it preferred not to discuss this issue.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

MCCS 2008 Financial Statements Posted

MCCS has posted its 2008 financial statements, which includes showing charges for the school closures. It's interesting reading, giving just a small glimpse inside the workings of the system.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

DOR Catholic: CMA Update

DOR Catholic updates its tracking of Catholic Ministries Appeal pledges at parishes that lost schools versus parishes whose schools remained open.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

DOR Catholic: CMA Lagging In Parishes with School Closures

DOR Catholic reports that parishes whose schools were closed last June are lagging behind their counterparts in Catholic Ministries Appeal pledging. This should come as no surprise, unfortunately, with the disenchantment caused by the entire schools debacle.

Also note the related post regarding higher CMA assessments placed upon parishes that lost their schools.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

News 10 NBC: Some Parents Still Upset with Catholic Diocese

News 10 NBC reports on parents continuing to be frustrated with restricted communications from the Diocese of Rochester.

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.”

D&C: A New Era in Catholic Education

The Democrat & Chronicle reports on the opening of Monroe County Catholic Schools tomorrow, months after the Diocese of Rochester decided to shutter 14 area schools. The Diocese continues to disappoint -- the article reveals that total MCCS enrollment for the beginning of the school year will fall short of Diocesan projections, and that the Diocese has cut tuition assistance.

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

Good Shepherd Parish Feels Financial Pinch with School Closing

The trickle down effects of the school closings are beginning to be more painfully felt by their associated parishes. The Good Shepherd bulletin this past weekend contained the following in a column relating to the passing of a deficit budget:

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

DOR Rids Itself of Closed Schools' Assets

DOR Catholic reports on the Diocese's efforts to rid itself of the various furniture, supplies, books, etc. from the schools it recently closed. See both posts by clicking here and here.

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

St. John Bosco Schools Choose Mendon Site

We received the following e-mail from St. John Bosco Schools this afternoon:

After a very thorough review of our options, we are pleased to announce the site of St. John Bosco Schools at 1370 Pittsford Mendon Road, Mendon, New York. This site is still pending final approval by the Town of Mendon, but we are confident that we will secure that approval very soon.

Registration will be opened through our website on Friday morning, August 8th at
8:00 AM 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

Epilogue: The Past and the Future

This blog began with a single intent -- to provide information on the Rochester Catholic School closings to a community being kept in the dark by its own diocesan leaders. A few months later, with more than 21,000 unique visitors from around the world having read the 160 separate blog posts, it's time to reflect back, and to focus on the future.

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

Catholic Courier: Good Shepherd Principal Demonstrates How to Weather the Storm

The Catholic Courier includes a feature on Mary Barrese-Frame, the beloved principal of Henrietta's Good Shepherd School, who has retired following the DOR's decision to shutter the site.

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."

Catholic Courier: Sister Kathleen Lurz Retires from Seton

The Catholic Courier carries a feature on Seton Catholic's Sister Kay, who has retired as principal.

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

WHAM-TV: Group Hopes to Start New Catholic School

WHAM-TV 13 has picked up on the St. John Bosco Schools story:

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

Fairport-ER Post: Site Sought for New Catholic School

The Fairport-East Rochester Post reports on progress in opening St. John Bosco Schools.

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

Catholic Courier: New Schools Superintendent Brings Personal Touch

The Catholic Courier reports on new DOR Catholic Schools Superintendent Anne Willkens Leach. As noted in the story:

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

St. John Bosco Schools Update

St. John Bosco Schools, the start-up Catholic elementary school planning to operate independent of the Diocese beginning this fall, has published a frequently asked questions bulletin. A more detailed e-mail from school organizers follows:

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 (585) 381-1879, by email at info@johnboscoschools.org or by mail at P.O. Box 1224, Penfield, New York 14526. Please be patient if it takes us a day or two to get back to you . . . we have not yet retained full-time staff to help us keep up with correspondence.

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 faculty@johnboscoschools.org; 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 Rochester community and beyond.

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 Angelicum Academy. The book list for the Angelicum is posted in the Document Center on our home page at www.johnboscoschools.org.

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

D&C: Anne Willkens Leach is Next Superintendent of Catholic Schools

The Democrat and Chronicle and other media outlets have reported that Anne Willkens Leach, currently principal at Nazareth Hall Middle School and Nazareth Academy in Rochester, has been named the new superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Rochester.

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

Greece Post: Saying Goodbye to More Than Just a Place

The Greece Post features a story on the final days of Catherine McAuley School.

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.

Irondequiot Post: School Closing Results in a Bittersweet Final Day

The Irondequiot Post reports on the final day of classes at St. Margaret Mary, which has closed after 75 years.

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

Rush-Henrietta Post: Remembering Good Shepherd School

The Rush-Henrietta Post reports on the final day of classes at Good Shepherd School, and produces a companion video.

“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

Diocese Restricted Media Access to Closing Ceremonies

Struck by a comment from WHAM-TV's Patrice Walsh that schools other than Holy Cross had asked media not to attend closing ceremonies, we reached out to the WHAM assignment desk for an explanation. Here's what we were told:

"...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

D&C: Conclusion of "A Prayer for Good Shepherd" Video Series

Democrat and Chronicle multimedia reporter Jeff Blackwell concludes his touching "A Prayer for Good Shepherd" video series.

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.

WROC-TV: Children with Disabilities Finding it Hard to Attend Catholic Schools

WROC-TV 8 follows up from its coverage a few months ago on Emily Wysocarski and her parents' quest to continue to have her attend Catholic schools, despite a leg disability. Unfortunately, promises from the Diocese for full access for disabled students fell short.

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.

WROC-TV: What Will Happen to Vacant Catholic School Buildings?

WROC-TV 8 reports on what may happen to the now vacant 13 Catholic school buildings in Monroe County, all of which held classes for the final time today.

The Final Bell: Last Day Media Coverage

Five months after Bishop Matthew H. Clark made his announcement that 13 area Catholic schools would close (plus another in Livingston County), the final day of classes was marked with sorrow, tears, and goodbyes.

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

Messenger-Post: Holy Cross Says Farewell to School with Mass, Open House

Messenger Post Newspapers report on Holy Cross School's plan to close its doors later this week.

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

D&C Letter to the Editor: Children Are More Valuable than Organ

The Democrat and Chronicle carries this letter to the editor, responding to columnist Mark Hare's feature on helping assemble the new $1.5 million pipe organ at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

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.


WHAM-TV: Catholic School Closings Draw Near

This marks the final week of classes for many of the region's Catholic schools, whose doors will be closed for good as students and teachers say their final goodbyes. 13 WHAM-TV speaks with families affected by the closing of Holy Cross.

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.

D&C: Mass Celebrates Holy Cross

From the Democrat and Chronicle:

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.

Catholic Courier: St. Andrew to Continue Reaching Out to Neighbors

So sad... the Catholic Courier continues its profiles of schools closing their doors because of Bishop Clark's decision, disrupting the lives of thousands of children. St. Andrew School is spotlighted in this feature.

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.

Catholic Courier: Holy Family School Helped Inner-City Kids Thrive

Here's another bittersweet story from the Catholic Courier on the school closings. This time, Holy Family is profiled.

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.

Catholic Courier: Community Bids Farewell to St. Boniface School

The Catholic Courier carries a story on the closing of St. Boniface School.

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.

Catholic Courier: Holy Cross School's Spirit is Eternal

The Catholic Courier reports on the last walk-a-thon and picnic for Holy Cross School.

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

DORCatholic: It Isn't About the Money? - Final

DOR Catholic posts its final analysis of the Catholic Ministries Appeal and its links to which schools were targeted for closure in the Diocese of Rochester.

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

Gates-Chili Post: All Saints Celebrates its "Mixing Pot:"

The Gates-Chili post features a story on All Saints Catholic Academy in its final days.

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

The Treasure

This is a bit of a departure, but I thought it worthwhile to post. Joe Holleran composed the following poem after reading about the Sacred Heart Cathedral's installation of a new $1.5MM organ.

The Treasure

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.

D&C: Holy Family Church to Close Alongside Its School

As many had suspected, ulterior motives in the area Catholic school closings are beginning to emerge. As the Democrat and Chronicle reports today, Holy Family Church is now slated for closure alongside Holy Family School.

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

Webster Post: Holy Trinity Preschool to Remain Open

The Webster Post reports that Holy Trinity's preschool will remain open next year, renamed Positive Preschool. A fundraiser and meet-the-teacher night will be held August 6 from 5 - 9 p.m. at Hank's Ice Cream and Roast Beef, 235 North Ave., Webster.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sr. Elaine Poitras Takes New Position

DOR Catholic has posted that Sr. Elaine Poitras, who unexpectedly resigned as superintendent of the MCCS system immediately after the Bishop's task force turned in its recommendation, has been named superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

St. John Bosco Meeting Site Announced for June 11

St. John Bosco Schools has set the location for its information meeting this Wednesday. It's at Casa Larga (2287 Turk Hill Road, Fairport) at 7:00 PM.

Penfield Post: Some Area Catholic Schools to Bulk Up

The Penfield Post reports on Monroe County Catholic Schools having to increase their class sizes to deal with the forced relocation of students.

"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."

Democrat and Chronicle: Alumni Say Goodbye to Catherine McAuley School

Read the D&C story on alumni saying their goodbyes to Catherine McAuley School.

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.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

St. John Bosco Schools Information Night - Wed, June 11

According to the SaveSJR site, St. John Bosco Schools -- the new Catholic elementary school independent of the Diocese of Rochester -- will have an informational meeting for parents on Wednesday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. (location TBD).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Catholic Courier: Attempt at Christian School in Dansville Falls Short

As reported by the Catholic Courier, the effort to convert the soon-to-be-closed Holy Family School in Dansville into an independently operated Christian school has ended, due to the inability to raise needed funds.

Read the letter from organizers by clicking here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

DORCatholic: Collateral Damage Parts I & II

DORCatholic has posted a couple of lengthy columns on the collateral damage resulting from the school closings, making the case that a Catholic school is frequently important – and quite often critical – to the vitality of both its parish and its wider community.

Read Part I
Read Part II

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Blog: Unemployed Catholic School Teacher

Suzanne Mettler, a kindergarten teacher at a soon-to-be-shuttered Catholic school in the Diocese of Rochester, has started a blog about her experiences. Click here to visit it.

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.

R News: St. John Bosco Schools Could be the Answer

R News reports on the movement to establish St. John Bosco, an independent Catholic school founded out of the DOR closings.

Visit the St. John Bosco School site here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Remember! DOR "Catholic Call-In" Today

Remember, today is the DOR "Catholic Call-In" from 2 - 8 p.m., purportedly addressing any and all questions from Catholics across the 12-county region. The toll-free number is 1-888-477-1718.

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.