Parents concerned after learning 5 Catholic schools will close in June

CHICAGO -- A community meeting was held at Incarnation School in Palos Heights, Ill., following an announcement that the Archdiocese of Chicago said it will close five schools at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year.

Several parents were upset and had some very pointed questions for the Archdiocese.

“We realize these closures have a difficult impact on families and are committed to working with them through this transition to find them the right next school for their children,” the superintendent of Catholic schools said.

Parents said they find that hard to believe because the other Catholic school on the Southwest Side is nearly full. Many parents are now unsure about what’s next for their kids.

“These kids feel like they don’t care they don’t matter if they church doesn’t care about them how they are supposed to find and look for this kind of education and the support,” John Malloy, parishioner, said. “The South Side is taking a big hit as far as parishioners are concerned. Makes me wonder what happens to the Catholic high schools around here.

Some parents are also wondering what will happen to all the money raised to help keep the doors open at this and the other schools.

The deadline for making the five schools financially solvent was Monday. Four of the schools closing are in the suburbs and one of them is in the city.

The five schools closing in June are St. Cyprian School in River Grove, Holy Cross School in Deerfield, Incarnation School in Palos Heights, St. Michael School in Chicago and Our Lady of the Ridge School in Chicago Ridge.

The schools like St. Cyprian had low enrollment. The school only had 138 students which caused a strain on the school’s finances. They couldn’t raise the additional money so St. Cyprian and the others cannot cover the operating costs and are running in the red.

St. Cyprian will now merge with St. Celestine in Elmwood Park.

There are other schools that are in jeopardy as well. Parents and parishioners of St. William in Chicago know they have a lot of work ahead of them in order to stay open.

In a letter to Incarnation School, the superintendent of schools in the Chicago Archdiocese commended the dedication of the leaders, faculty and staff and their tireless efforts to keep incarnation open.

The merger between St. Celestine and St. Cyprian will begin in July.

The Archdiocese released a list of their restructuring plan Thursday evening for both parishes and schools. The plan can be read below:

Archdiocese of Chicago Announces New Parish and School Structures in Marquette and Exchange Renew My Church Groupings
January 18, 2018

As part of the Archdiocese’s revitalization initiative, Renew My Church, the leadership of parishes in the Marquette and Exchange groupings have been meeting to discuss the future church, parish and school structures for their areas. They submitted their feedback to the Archdiocese of Chicago and the final structures have been approved.

Marquette Grouping
The Renew My Church Marquette grouping includes Queen of the Universe Parish and School, St. Adrian Parish and St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish and School, all in Chicago.

Queen of the Universe Parish and St. Adrian Parish will unite to form one new parish, effective July 1, 2018, retaining both churches as active worship sites.

St. Nicholas of Tolentine will continue in its current parish structure, with a full-time resident pastor.

Both St. Nicholas of Tolentine and Queen of the Universe Schools will continue in their current structures.

Over the next few months, the Archdiocese will work with parishioners to ensure an orderly and smooth transition to the new parish structure. The Archdiocese’s Priest Placement Board will work with the community to identify a pastor to lead the new parish formed by Queen of the Universe and St. Adrian.

Through the new parish structure, Queen of the Universe and St. Adrian Parishes will unite their resources to create a vital, life-giving parish with two worship sites. With this viable structure in place, the new parish, in collaboration with St. Nicholas of Tolentine, will work on new ways to implement the Renew My Church vision: to make disciples, build communities and inspire witness.

Exchange Grouping
The Renew My Church Exchange grouping includes Immaculate Conception Parish and School (88th Street), Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and School, Sacred Heart Parish and School (96th Street) and St. Michael Parish and School (South Shore), all in Chicago.

St. Michael School has faced declining enrollment in recent years which has caused a strain on the school’s finances. Despite strong efforts to restore the school to viability, finances and enrollment have not improved. Neither the parish nor the Archdiocese is able to pay for the school’s operating deficits. The Archdiocese engaged with the Exchange grouping community on the enrollment and financial struggles at the school. As a result of these discussions, St. Michael School will close at the end of this school year, effective June 30, 2018. This decision was shared with school families, faculty and staff yesterday, January 17, 2018.

The Archdiocese will work with St. Michael School faculty and staff to find employment within the Archdiocesan system. The Archdiocese will also work with school families to help them transition to their next school.

The Exchange grouping’s leaders also submitted a report to the Archdiocese about the future structure of the entire grouping area. Based on review of the report, the Archdiocese concluded that more information is needed on the capital, staffing, and other area needs before moving forward with a recommendation for the Exchange grouping’s full church and parish structure.

Over the next few months, the Archdiocese will work with local leaders to conduct additional research to explore capital needs and other questions about the Exchange grouping area. The Archdiocese expects to have a final decision on the church and parish structures for the area in September 2018.