The elementary schools affiliated with two of the Province’s parishes — All Saints in Harlem, New York, where Steven Pavignano, OFM, is pastor, and St. Paul Church in Wilmington, Del., where Todd Carpenter, OFM, is pastor — will close at the end of this academic year.
The Archdiocese of New York announced All Saints School’s closing in January and St. Paul broke the news last week.
Todd notified the community on Feb. 3 that the school will close in June due to both low enrollment and diocesan financial problems. The school sent letters to families, and Todd held meetings with parents and teachers. An article appeared on the website of the Diocese of Wilmington.
Delaware Diocese Bankrupt
The closing was also covered in the Wilmington News Journal, stating that St. Paul School was one of the first ministries to be affected by the $77.4 million settlement recently reached between the Diocese of Wilmington and survivors of priest abuse.
An announcement was posted on Feb. 4 on the Facebook page of St. Paul Church, which read: “We are very sad to report that St. Paul School will close at the end of this school year due to a lack of funding from the diocese due to the bankruptcy and low enrollment. We are happy to partner with Our Lady of Fatima School who has a seat for every one of our students. Please pray for our students and school families at this difficult time.”
Todd said, “The good news in all this is that I have been able to negotiate a deal with a neighboring parish that offers a wonderful opportunity for our students. Our Lady of Fatima Parish in nearby New Castle can take every one of our students, and they are willing to charge all St. Paul’s families the same tuition rate that we are charging for a three-year period. The tuition at Fatima School is almost $2,500 higher than St. Paul’s, so that’s a significant discount. I am hopeful that a majority of our families will take advantage of this arrangement. St. Paul’s Parish would, in effect, become a sponsor of Fatima School. We would promote it to all our families, and the friars assigned to St. Paul’s Parish would make ourselves available to visit for school liturgies to maintain contact with our former students.”
He noted: “While I am very disappointed to see St. Paul School close after 123 years of Catholic education, I realize there is no other alternative.”
New York Archdiocese Evaluation
The upcoming closing of All Saints School was made public on Jan. 11, when the Archdiocese of New Yorkannounced that Archbishop Timothy Dolan had accepted the recommendations of a committee comprised of pastors, principals, parents, donors and educators that studied the long-term viability of Catholic schools in the archdiocese.
“We like the analogy of the biblical vine grower,” Timothy J. McNiff, archdiocesan superintendent of schools, toldCatholic News Service. “When you prune a tree, you’re prepared for growth.”
McNiff said in a National Catholic Reporter story that the short-term target is to reduce by half the subsidies the archdiocese gives to struggling schools. “We can only sustain deficit spending for so long,” he said.
“While nearly 20 percent of the nation’s Catholic elementary and secondary buildings have shut their doors just over the last decade amid a mix of spiraling costs and declining enrollments in the largest one-off planning move anyone can recall, the country’s second largest local church — New York — will close 28 schools (one-sixth of its system) in June in an effort to fill the exhausting quota of seats and stem years of heavy subsidies which have put a strain on many a diocesan budget,” wrote Rocco Palmo in a Feb. 4 post on his blog “Whispers in the Loggia.”