The Closing of a School: Part Two
This post is a follow-up to Sunday’s entry about the closing of a Catholic high school in the Buffalo suburbs. What I have done here is copied a sampling of local reaction from news and social media sites with a personal comment or two after each. My opinions and reactions are interspersed throughout.
We are praying for a miracle !
Unless God approves of corporate welfare, you might do better to pray in thanks for the incredible commitment that the Franciscan sisters have made to your community—as religious, educators, and benefactors—for nearly 90 years. And maybe follow up your prayers with a gift the community’s retirement fund.
Shame on those that made this decision.
No, shame on those who have lived off the graciousness of a very generous religious order and don’t have the Christian civility to say thank-you after all these years.
This School should be Saved!
OK, create a master plan, run it past KPMG, and put it out there.
How sad. How horrific for those who have to find another school. So many schools and churches have closed. Why is that? The bishop recently announced a program of collecting $100 million. What is he going to use that money for? Why are schools and churches closing. Where is all that money going? Too bad things like Catholic Charities aren't audited
This sounds like a 1950’s existentialist pacing his study at 3 AM. Why? Why? Why? Maybe I can help. For starters, the designations of the $100 million—as yet a hope, not a fait accompli—are clearly delineated on the Diocese of Buffalo website. And au contraire, the annual IRS 990 filing for Catholic Charities and all non-profits are in the public record.
NOTE: Hilbert College/Boneventure U should take in the upcoming senior class of 2017. More than half of those girls are in AP courses which are level 100 courses for college anyway.....as for the rest the teachers who are losing their "jobs" could sign on as "special adjunct instructors" for the college to take care of those 45 girls so they graduate & the parents tuition rate would apply for the school year salaries......it is just WRONG & not responsible of IA..........the freshman/sophomore class has 2-3 more yrs of HS and can easily transfer out.
For starters, it is St. Bonaventure University, not Boneventure U. If you are looking for a sugar daddy, be sure to at least get his name right. Now if I have this right, we jump the 2016 juniors straight into college since half of them are taking honors courses now as juniors. To facilitate this, we ask “Boneventure U” to hire 45 faculty for a class of 45. Everybody else, find your own lifeboat. Not exactly an AP solution.
No shortage of Dollars flowing in to the Vatican. Here in Orlando they only build in new rich parts of town.
Rarely do you see two canards so neatly packed together. The Vatican spends about $325 million annually on worldwide missions, and in 2011 operated at a deficit of about $18 million. Pope Francis himself lives a simple life with other religious. And living in the Orlando Diocese myself, I can point out that that the last two Catholic elementary schools were constructed twenty years ago. Last year I attended Mass in a new parish…in a strip mall next to a tattoo parlor.
Sad... Yes. Heartbreaking... Absolutely. Disgraceful... You bet!
The Franciscan Sisters have poured millions into the South Towns while a modest local capital campaign among the school’s alumni, benefactors, and local parishes failed. Disgraceful? You bet!
As parents of [deleted].....we are absolutely distraught today. We came home from work to find our daughter in tears. The news hit social media (& our daughters) before many of us parents even knew what had happened. Our daughter, along with so many other students of Immaculata are inconsolable right now. Wishing this were all a bad dream.
And probably wishing you had done some homework on the financial realities of the school over the past decade, I imagine.
So sad that the Catholic Church is removing itself from education. Then they wonder why so many are not attending Mass anymore. Seriously!
The Catholic Church, contrary to popular belief, does not own its own minting operation. Church authorities such as bishops and pastors (and in IA’s case, a Franciscan religious community) do what they are enabled to do by the tithes and offerings of its members. If services and schools are cut, it is because the offerings, too, have been cut. Why has church support dropped so drastically? There are a number of studies now appearing on the subject. As to the faith of Catholic youth, may I recommend “Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults In, Out of, and Gone from the Catholic Church.” (Oxford University Press, 2014.)
My heart breaks for the current students. I had four wonderful formative years there to make me a strong woman who learned about community and the importance of friends.
And, hopefully, tithing.
Handled very badly!!!
From what I see, an argument can be made for that. The communications between the FSSJ community, the local IA advisory bodies, and the Diocese of Buffalo are confidential, but the dynamics over the past year or two between the members of this triad would probably explain many things. I have to think that the failure of the capital campaign had symbolic as well as financial repercussions; thoughtful parents and others might have read the tea leaves sooner, too.
would it be possible to save the school if we all, all alumni, pitched in with a good donation.
My understanding is that the alumnae were approached (or should have been) in 2013 and beyond for the campaign. For that matter, successful Catholic schools contact alumnae/alumni every year with news and requests for support. A competent development office puts high priority on such matters.
I don't know why any one saw this as a surprise. We live an increasingly secularly society which doesn't identify with any religion and for the last 35 years wages have been flat for the working class. Most people are just trying to keep their head above water. This school wasn't Nardin or a Canisius (I realize IA is a girls only school). The schools are independent and don't have anything to do with Diocese. The arguments blaming the Diocese are without merit. I do believe the Bishop needs to start falling in line with the message from the Holy Father, but that's not what this article is about.
This post does make several good points; the writer does understand the independent nature of Catholic high schools, which as a rule are not attached to a parish like an elementary school. In Buffalo, several Catholic high schools are owned and operated by the diocese, and others, like Nardin, Canisius, and Immaculata, are owned by religious orders. It is critical for high schools to build a regional following and identity as part of their fiscal planning. I assume the writer is referring to the bishop’s residence. Not every shepherd in the U.S. got the pope’s fax about “smelling like sheep.”
Even in his statement this bishop shows he is out of touch. He apparently doesn't realize that many families that desired this type of education for their daughter will now have very limited access as the next closest similar school Mount Mercy in South Buffalo, another 10 or so miles away. May not seem too far but tell that to the folks in parts of the Southtowns that no longer get bus service or live even further away. Bishop clearly thinks Western New York ends south of Delaware Avenue
I am not sure what the bishop could say in his statement. IA is not a legal entity of the Diocese of Buffalo. Bishop Malone—and certainly his predecessors—have known for a long time that IA survived through the beneficence of FSSJ community. In truth, the Bishop (Malone) has been fortunate not to have had to face this sooner. If the writer believes that another diocesan school should be built in the South Towns, he or she should read the multiple warnings included in the letter of closing. I do wish the bishop had been more expansive in his gratitude to the sisters who have served and supported the school since 1928. His “We are saddened over the Sisters’ decision to end their sponsorship of Immaculata Academy and the decision of the Board of Trustees to close the school” didn’t cut it for me.
Sharing your gifts in love of God and neighbor. In the Diocese of Wichita, our parishes have accepted responsibility for providing Catholic education to active parishioners without charging tuition for grades K-12. Therefore, you can help the most by being an active steward and a generous supporter of your parish.
I am not familiar with the Wichita system; I have heard of similar successes around the country. The operative word is tithing, inspired by faith and trust. I can safely say that if tithing was a general practice in the Buffalo diocese, the mood and discussion would take on a different tone. Repeated studies, by the way, indicate that Catholics on average donate 1% of income to their churches.
No one wants private schools anymore public schools are now like private teachers making more than college professor s taxpayers are chooking on the school tax bill
What people want are effective private schools where the Catholic Faith is the uniting focus of the institution. But what they don’t always want is straight talk about the sacrifices necessary to feed the bulldog.
A few years back, the diocese decided to close many parochial schools in the southtowns and south Buffalo. There is reason to suspect the diocese knew down the road, Catholics high schools would have to close with the loss of these feeder schools. Yet we constantly are asked to donate more for the good of the church. How about the good of the children?
The diocese did not “decide” to deprive children in the South Towns. Those elementary schools were closed for many of the same reasons that IA is closing: the local communities cannot or will not sustain them. Was the diocese happy about this? Of course not. Did diocesan planners see the domino effect on high schools? Probably. But previous and present bishops can only play the cards they are dwelt. Incidentally, the diocese is currently asking for $100 million, of which 12% is earmarked for a tuition assistance endowment.
Tomorrow's parishioners are today's Catholic school students. End the schools, and you will no longer have any sheeples.
One of the biggest problems in parish life—school and CCD—is the fact today’s students are not in fact today’s parishioners and Sunday Mass worshippers.
Our Bishop inspires no one. When Francis spoke forward about mercy and kindness, he was busy explaining how the rules have not changed in the church; rather than magnify Francis's message. A Conservative much more interested in dogma, than the message and truth of the radical Jesus Christ
But some conservative doctrine from the Wharton School of Business might help matters along some, too, for the survival of Catholic schools.
Vouchers would have saved this school. It is shameful the young women are not able to achieve the highest ideals the school offers. Now their minds can be twisted at the public schools which endorses the liberals on every issue we face in this country. The indoctrination into BIG government lives on and grows larger with each passing day.
Here is a writer who deeply fears big government but argues that “[state] vouchers would have saved this school.” I have to respect the apocalyptic touch, though.
“We always a few nuns come to our school,” said [name]. They’re so cute and old and we would be excited to see them. Sister Jean [the school’s president] is a nun and we would go over to see them and say hi to all of them so we never really felt that was problem.”
They’re not old. They are the median age of their community. They need medical care and housing. “That’s the problem.”
Good location for future Tim Hortons
Now that’s cruel.
Catholic education is disappearing fast.
Since 1962, from a study I read last night. Einstein was right: time is relative.
Parents too cannot escape from this. Many I know chose trips to Disney world and when asked why they didn't send their children to Catholic school relied: "we cannot afford it". It comes down to priorities
Boy, talk to principals about that reality.
Sad that the girls in attendance now won't be able to graduate from the school. A better plan might have been to accept no more students and close after the last graduating class. That would have had to have been planned about 2 or 3 years ago which I'm sure they were aware of the financial situation. A loss of an excellent school.
Get me another form for Wharton, honey. I am reminded about a time when I was about $130,000 in the hole with my parish school and a parishioner on the street told me, “we can use less lighting.”
Perhaps they are closing because the nuns spent about 15 MILLION dollars for their new convent....then they fired a LOT of the staff at the convent....I should know, I worked there for 10 years! I love so many of the nuns, but what those in charge did to the convent staff was very un-Franciscan.
It is my understanding that the community demolished its old and costly motherhouse, sold the land to developers as was its right, and used the proceeds to build what I believe to be a residence and care facility. The architect’s rendering is here. By this writer’s reasoning, the elderly sisters should pass their final days at the Days Inn down the road.
Do you think if New York had a school voucher system for all that a school such as this would be thriving instead of dying. The catholic school system was strong at one time.
I know the government school system is glad to see these schools shut down
Another poster who sees big government (Erie County?) at the heart of the plot. The Catholic school system was numerically impressive for a time, but the major reason was the largely unreimbursed services of 30-ish religious sisters. I am reminded of an economist’s analysis of McDonald’s” “If you are operating a business where you depend upon minimum wage as your standard, you are a sick corporation.”
contact the Bishop !! He claims that He wants to help Catholic Education by raising $100,m in 5 yrs. Tell him you need $$ to attract more students & save the school. See what his response is - good luck
The interesting thing in many of these posts is that the words “bishop” and “state” are interchangeable. The bottom line is: who will rescue us?
Very sad. I attended OLSH. When it closed it was horrible. But can someone answer me this. Catholic health system is growing and schools are closing. Is money is more important than education?
Oh, demographics maybe. There are fewer children and more folks my age. Moreover, Catholic health systems are self-sustaining and accountable to stock holders. And, incidentally, most Catholic sisters were nurses long before they became educators.
11 million spent on new building downtown for the Catholic health system. And we can not educate our children? Why are there so many charter schools opening up and ours closing. Someone explain please
The second half of the post is easier: present day American Catholicism has not developed a funding model to properly operate the schools at the numbers of the post-WW II era, when the work force of Catholic schools was comprised of religious who lived with a commitment to poverty. As to charter schools, I have no data about comparisons in Western New York.
IA has been a second tier school for a long time and now they've found a better way to make money off the real estate. Watch in the next two years and see what they do with it. Rest assured it won't be gathering dust.
Here is a hard-boiled observer. It hasn’t occurred to the writer that if the facility is sold, the proceeds rightfully belong to the owner—in the American Way—who in this case has made millions of dollars’ worth of gifts in labor and cash to the community. My guess, and it is only that, would be that the land resources will be joined to the Hilbert Campus, also owned by the FSSJ, or sold at best market rate for the care of the elderly sisters and other apostolic ventures of the FSSJ community.
I must disagree [name]. Catholic educated students do not outdo their public counterparts. They haven't for decades. My husband and I are faithful practicing Catholics who are extremely involved in our parish. We choose not to send our children to Catholic schools anymore because the public schools where we live are superior in many ways. We examined all our options. We investigated everything. We prayed about it. Sending our children to public schools, and taking full responsibility for their religious education, has been the absolute right choice. They are getting a better education and they are as involved in parish life as we are. (Meanwhile, many of the people in my neighborhood who send their children to Catholic school don't even attend weekly Mass, let alone volunteer at the parish.)
I cannot comment to IA’s academic rating; in various places it is reported that nearly 100% of its graduates progress to college, though probably not to the Ivy League. This writer does note that there are good public high schools in the South Towns, which may be what the community’s letter referred to in its comments about discouraging demographics. I note, too, that these parents here take a very active role in their children’s faith formation, which theologically is the official teaching of the Church regarding parenthood.
Why do people give money to this bishop? He's main goal is just rising money and cares about know one but him self. Was a devoted catholic for 50yrs until I got sick of their money scams .It's felt good to leave.Why doesn't the attorney general ever investigate the organization?
For someone who professes that “it felt good to leave,” I’m not feeling the joy. It is no secret in Buffalo that the Bishop’s mansion is a bone of contention; the diocese does seem tone deaf to that, and the mansion is probably not going to help his upcoming appeal. But that said, I can tell you from my own experiences that closings and capital campaigns rip open old wounds, so my prayers go out to Hamburg, Buffalo, and the Diocese as a whole.
Leave a Reply.