ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Parents and students fought for months against the closing of several catholic schools in Western New York. Now, they may have a slight peace of mind for one of the buildings.
When the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo announced ten catholic schools would be closing, there were fears the buildings would sit empty and children would no longer have a place to learn about faith and education. Father Paul Seil tried to fight the process, “There was dishonesty, deceit, politics and other elements of this flawed process,” he said.
St. Bernadette’s served as an elementary school in Orchard Park for over 50 years. ”It’s certainly been a difficult time for all of the families who are in this parish and in this school and the school means a lot to our students and to our families,” said Julie Coppola Cox, spokesperson for St. Bernadette’s.
Luckily, families won’t have to say goodbye completely. This fall, the school will reopen for Pre-K education. “Since it’s closing certainly we were pretty upset about that, but excited certainly to learn about the new chapter here at St. Bernadette’s,” said parent Jason Wabick.
That new chapter will mean Wabick’s four-year-old daughter Gianna will be able to enroll. “It was the faith based community that St. Bernadette’s has created during the time here we’ve been parishioners for the last going on 11 years and thought it was important that our children were a part of it,” said Wabick.
While it’s been a hard year for parishioners of the closing catholic schools, knowing this school will still be used to teach children brings some peace of mind. “I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm that St. Bernadette is going to maintain its vitality and vibrancy,” said Coppola Cox. “It’s our way of at least trying to see if we can support all of our friends and family as well as too we know that our daughter is going to have certainly a great support structure here as well,” said Wabick.
Sunday’s open house was the first of two that. St. Bernadette will be hosting. St. Francis of the Assisi will also reopen for pre-k in the fall.