Diocese Closes St. Mary’s School After 153 Years Of Teaching Excellence
By Publisher Albert J. Countryman Jr.
Gloucester City News Editorial
For 153 years, St. Mary’s Elementary School in Gloucester City has done a fantastic job teaching youngsters in a working class town – and giving them a solid base for future higher education.
Now, for the lack of $150,000 and declining enrollment, the Camden Diocese is shutting down the school.
On May 19, the Gloucester City News received the following press release from the Diocese:
“St. Mary School, Gloucester, will close in June at the end of this school year. The announcement was made in a letter to parents by Bishop Joseph Galante.
“The letter noted that St. Mary’s falling enrollment – a 34 percent decline since 2008 – and growing debt made it impossible to continue beyond this school year. The school faces a projected $150,000 deficit this year and a projected $250,000 deficit for next year.”
Two key points of the ministry of Jesus were helping the poor and caring for children.
Unfortunately, the Church has let down the children – again.
Closing the school takes away the opportunity for young people to attend a quality school – the first step in the preparation for a rewarding career.
As a product of a Catholic School education, I was prepared for the University of Arizona. My parents skimped and saved so the six of us could attend Sacred Heart School in Riverton, Holy Ghost Prep, and Holy Cross High School. The result – six college graduates.
In my opinion, the Church is hurting the children of Gloucester City and surrounding towns.
Unfortunately, worldwide over the past five decades, the Church has hurt the children by not protecting them. Instead, it turned a blind eye to reports of clergy sexually abusing children.
The horrible consequences suffered by the victims – a loss of trust, years of confusion, drug abuse, difficulties having healthy relationships as adults, and even suicide in several cases – has caused great anger and emotional pain.
Some lay Catholics have responded by leaving the Church, or reducing donations. Also, the financial cost has been staggering – the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported the in the United States, some $2 billion has been spent settling abuse claims.
It is hard not to think that this outlay is one of the causes of school closings and parish mergers.
Last Thursday was a sad day for the students, parents and staff of St. Mary’s. Gloucester City has lost one of the pillars of its community.
I urge the Camden Diocese to reconsider its decision – and not let the children down again.