Amid pandemic, scores of US Catholic schools face closure

Amid pandemic, scores of US Catholic schools face closure

Catholic schools have faced tough times for years, but the pace of closures is accelerating dramatically amid economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, sparking heartbreak and anger in scores of affected communities.

“It’s not a pretty picture right now,” said Sister Dale McDonald, public policy director of the National Catholic Educational Association, which says about 100 schools have announced in recent weeks that they won’t reopen this fall. McDonald fears that number could more than double in the coming months.

Most of the closures are occurring at the elementary level, but also on the list are a number of venerable and beloved high schools including some that produced some famous alumni.

The Institute of Notre Dame, a girls’ school in Baltimore founded in 1847, is due to close on June 30, to the dismay of alumnae like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Immaculate Conception Cathedral School of Memphis, Tennessee, another girls’ institution, is also shutting down after 98 years; it’s where Priscilla Beaulieu finished her senior year while dating husband-to-be Elvis Presley.

Closures in New Jersey include Hammonton’s St. Joseph High School, which has won more than 20 state football championships, and Cristo Rey high school in Newark, which was highly praised for its work helping students from low-income families go to college. Founded in 2007, Cristo Rey says every one of its graduates from the last 10 years had been accepted at colleges.

This year’s closures will reduce the number of Catholic K-12 schools in the United States to about 6,000, down from more than 11,000 in 1970, according to the Catholic education association. Overall enrolment has plummeted from more than 5 million in the 1960s to about 1.7 million now.

“The loss of Catholic schools is a loss to America,” said Mary Pat Donoghue, executive director of the Catholic Education office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

She said the impact would be particularly severe in low-income inner city neighbourhoods, generally populated mostly by blacks and Hispanics,

“No one in the non-public school sector has done better there than Catholic schools,” she said.

The long-term enrolment decline has resulted from demographic changes, parents’ difficulty affording tuition and competition from public and other private schools.

Factors related to the pandemic have only aggravated the problems.

Religion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Some Central Albertans calling for mask wearing to become mandatory

A family physician from Didsbury supports the Masks4Canada movement

Sylvan Lake pastor retiring after 43 years of service

Pastor Bill Spangler has been at Sylvan Lake Seventh-Day Adventist Church for six years

Nominations for 2020 Sylvan Lake Business Awards up over last year

This year’s awards also have two new categories: Business Resiliency and Business Philanthropy

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Ottawa jail inmates argue anti-COVID measures a breach of charter rights

The prisoners allege guards did not wear masks until April 25

Epstein pal arrested, accused of luring girls for sex abuse

Ghislaine Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein for years

More than 50,000 Coronavirus cases reported per day in US

Coronavirus cases are rising in 40 of 50 US states

Trump plans huge July 4 fireworks show despite DC’s concerns

Despite health concerns from D.C.’s mayor, no one apparently will be required to wear masks

Canadian engineer detained in Egypt released, needs treatment, family says

Yasser Albaz was detained at the Cairo airport after a business trip in February of 2019

Reports of military member arrested after truck rammed gate near Trudeau residence

Officers descended on the sprawling estate Thursday morning.

Canada Day tractor incident kills three children, injures seven in Quebec

The tractor driver has been arrested following the accident

Social media companies face revenue hit from boycotts

#StopHateforProfit campaign continues

Most Read