NEW YORK - Low enrollment, mass unemployment and household financial stress. They've all combined to force the Archdiocese of New York and the Brooklyn Diocese to shutter 17 Catholic schools in in the city.
"As lousy and sad as I feel I know, it's nothing compared to the way our kids and our parents and our teachers and our principles are feeling that only deepens the profound somberness I feel," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
Two of the schools are in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn, four in Queens, three in Staten Island and six in the Bronx.
"The registrations are so low in those schools that we had to make the terribly toxic decision that they really can't reopen. We can't do it when you have such low numbers," Dolan said.
The networks of schools run by the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes Queens, and the Archdiocese of New York, which encompasses the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and seven counties north of the city, have been shrinking for years, reflecting changing neighborhoods, and broad demographic trends plaguing many Roman Catholic dioceses. But Dolan says the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic made this round of closures far worse.
"But 20? Forget about it. We were in a very strong position, alright, before the virus hit. All of these schools are superb," Dolan noted.
Dolan says that even with scholarships available the financial stress and uncertainty is too much for many parents.
"A lot of our parents are saying we don't even have jobs we dont even know if we're able to pay the minimal registration fee. And as much as we try to help, we can't do it for everybody," Dolan said.
In total, the closures will affect about 2,500 children and 350 teachers and staff. In additon to the 17 closures within the five boroughs, the Archdiocese of New York is closing nine schools north of the city.
Cardinal Dolan said that students enrolled in the schools that will close can attend Catholic schools nearby and that the archdiocese wants to help families financially, so parents can keep their kids in the Catholic school system.
The following Catholic schools will not reopen:
- Corpus Christi School, Manhattan
- Divine Mercy School, New Windsor
- Holy Family School, New Rochelle
- Nativity of Our Blessed Lady School, Bronx
- Our Lady of Mt. Carmel-St. Benedicta School, Staten Island
- Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Pelham Manor
- Our Lady of Pompeii School, Manhattan
- Our Lady of the Assumption School, Bronx
- Sacred Heart School, Suffern
- St. Ann School, Yonkers
- St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, Shrub Oak
- St. John’s School, Kingsbridge, Bronx
- St. Joseph-St. Thomas School, Staten Island
- St. Luke School, Bronx
- St. Patrick School, Bedford
- St. Paul School, Yonkers
- St. Peter School, Poughkeepsie
- Sts. Peter & Paul School, Staten Island
- Sts. Philip & James School, Bronx
- St. Thomas Aquinas School, Bronx
St. John School in Goshen will welcome the following school communities to their campus:
- Sacred Heart School, Monroe
- St. Stephen-St. Edward School, Warwick