Families of Catholic elementary schools are working on mapping out their future. At least one school says it will fight plans to close.
“Sad. This a wonderful parish and a wonderful school,” said St. Mary of the Lake first grader Natalie Schultz.
It’s hard for young children to understand why their school could close when everything seemed to be going right. It may be equally hard for their parents.
“I’m certainly strong in my faith, but my faith doesn’t blind me and I think there’s some explaining to do,” said parent Paul Bartell.
St. Mary of the Lake’s pastor, Father Gary Kibler, says their school continues to grow with 35 percent of its students being poor.
“We’re not just taking care of the elite in society, but that everybody has a place here. This is everybody’s home,” he said.
Father Kibler says they’ve met all the criteria to stay open, including being financially stable. Still their school is one of ten slated to close at the end of the year. They’ve written to Bishop Richard Malone, asking him to reconsider.
“If you get better information, sometimes you can make better decisions,” said Father Kibler.
Steve Boyd fought to keep his children’s school, Mount Saint Joseph’s Academy, open. It closed five years after that fight.
“When they’re at their new schools these teachers loved them up just the way our teachers loved them up so it was a great thing. But it ended and all of our kids are in a good place now,” he said.
Boyd says it’s incredibly hard to not only save a school, but keep it open.
“These good people want to change their minds and I think in many respects the Diocese of Buffalo have made up of minds that are unchangeable,” he said.
Parent Jessica Sellari said, “It’s almost making you lose faith and that’s the last thing we want to do. We’re in a catholic school, we want faith in our life and to be pushed out it hurts.”
Church officials are asking parents of the school to do three things: register their child with the school for next year, write a letter to the bishop expressing their feelings, and sign a petition.
Father Kibler expects to hear a response from the bishop within in 30 days.