Woman spearheads fundraiser to help displaced Catholic teachers

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Ten local catholic schools are preparing to close for good at the end of this school year, and some 200 people will be out of work.

Some Catholic schools are still fighting to stay open, but for those who have already come to grips that they’ll be closing, there may be some help on the way for teachers.

“I felt that these unsung heroes were not being noticed as much with the closings,” said Theresa Roma, organizer of the Catholic Teachers Fund.

Roma attended Catholic school for 14 years during her childhood. She hopes one day her twins will also receive a Catholic education. She was heartbroken to learn 10 schools will be closing at the end of the year.

“The students and families, it’s devastating for them as well and I hope they can all find a place in another school that’s accepting them, but a lot of these teachers from what I’ve heard aren’t necessarily going to have another place to go,” said Roma.

She started the Catholic Teachers Fund to raise money for the 185 faculty and staff who will soon be without a job.

“Any profit that’s made is going to be given directly back to these teachers to help supplement their unemployment from being laid off,” said Roma.

A celebration honoring the teachers will held at the end of May. It’s a “hats off” gala. Roma hopes to raise enough money to give each displaced teacher $500.

“I still speak to a lot of these teachers. They’re a big part of my life and they shaped me into who I am today so I want the opportunity to give back to them,” she explained.

Meanwhile, not all of the 10 schools are closing without a fight. Mark Saltarelli, the attorney fighting to save St. Francis of Assisi in Tonawanda, says they’re one of four schools that’s filed an appeal.

“The closing of Catholic schools is not the answer. You should be finding ways to strengthen the existing Catholic schools and grow their numbers, not cut people off from a Catholic education,” he argued.

On Monday, Pope Francis received a letter from Saltarelli pleading that he step in to save the school.

“It needs to be saved. Right now we’re waiting on Rome,” said Saltarelli.

Kevin Keenan, spokesman for the Buffalo Diocese, says they don’t know how long it will take for the a decision on the appeal.

For more information about the fundraiser for the teachers go to http://www.hatsoffgala.com/home.html

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