N.J. just lost 3 more Catholic schools

N.J. just lost 3 more Catholic schools

17 Temmuz 2018 - 02:00

The abrupt closing this month of a Catholic elementary school after 70 years in operation is offering a stark reminder of challenges facing the institution.

St. Catherine of Bologna School in Ringwood was shut down July 5, one day after supporters spent their Fourth of July holiday staffing a farmer's market information tent in a last-ditch effort to attract new students and save the school.

It was a sad, but not unfamiliar, outcome. For decades, Catholic schools in New Jersey and nationally have grappled with financial pressures stemming from declining enrollment.

In the early 1960s, more than 5.2 million students were enrolled in nearly 13,000 Catholic schools in the United States, according to the Washington-based National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).

By the 2016-17 school year, enrollment had dipped to 1.835 million at 6,352 schools, the organization noted in its most recent annual report.

Peter Feuerherd, a correspondent for the independent National Catholic Reporter, told NJ Advance Media that rising public school taxes, among other issues, have been a factor.

"The temptation is not to pay a Catholic school education," said Feuerherd, who lives in Queens, N.Y. and is former spokesperson for the Diocese of Camden.

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Diocese of Paterson Bishop Arthur Joseph Serratelli in 2009


Robert Sciarrino | The Star-Ledger

While the shutdown of St. Catherine's drew more attention, two other Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Paterson — which includes Passaic, Morris and Sussex counties — recently closed their doors for good.

In Clifton, declining enrollment was cited as a factor in shutting down St. Andrew the Apostle School in June after about 65 years. 

Richard D. Kilcomons, pastor of Saint Andrew the Apostle Church, delivered the news on April 30 as he voided registrations for September.

"After careful review of the financials of the church and school, as well as the low number of registrations, we cannot sustain the school," wrote the pastor in a letter that it posted online.

Specifics were not provided.

Feuerherd said dioceses are wary of sinking disproportionate resources into schools, especially when enrollment is slipping.

"They worry about parishes that are overly leveraged into their schools," he said.


A statue of Saint Pius X, as seen in 2000 in front of the closed St. Pius High School in Piscataway.


Vic Yepello | The Star-Ledger

In Montville, St. Pius X School closed last month after more than 45 years. The official announcement was made June 21 after the school year had ended.

"It's with the heaviest of hearts our school doors will close today after nearly 50 years of Catholic School Educational excellence," the school said in an announcement to Facebook.

"While emotions run high, today we choose instead to focus on spreading love and gratitude to the incomparable faculty and staff and to the students of our wonderful school. We honor them today and into the future hoping that their memories from SPX School will always carry a special place in their hearts as they will forever and always be in ours." 



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