By Tom Gurick
After 153 years of faithful and continuous service to the community of Gloucester City, the bells of St. Mary’s will be silenced! “St. Mary’s School to close at the end of the 2011 school year.”
The announcement came, under the cloak of darkness and very unceremoniously, by the office of the Bishop of Camden. This is quite a chilling end to such a glorious institution.
The Diocesan Office was quick to point that this decision was a result of a multitude of factors, such as declining enrollment and a soft economy. I would ask, is this economy any “softer” than during the great depression? Is enrollment more difficult to sustain than it was during World War II or during the Civil War for that matter? Because remember, there was a St. Mary’s School long before there was a President Lincoln!
No, the closing of St. Mary’s School is a direct result of Bishop Galante’s vision of directing the Diocese’s financial might AWAY from Gloucester City and toward a more affluent demographic. I would also have to cast blame (as much as it pains me) upon the severe lack of leadership by our Pastor, and the complete ineptness of the School Principal.
I am sickened by the knowledge that billions (that’s with a B) of dollars of hush money was made available to “correct” certain legal difficulties and embarrassing indiscretions. This is a not to imply that these indiscretion were local. It is merely to illustrate that when funds are needed, they are available, except for the children of Gloucester City.
There is another layer of misfortune to this complete debacle. Because of Bishop Galante’s desire to cast aside St. Mary’s, the future socioeconomic ramifications are going to be crushingly brutal to the entire City of Gloucester City. Some of the impact will be immediate, and some will creep in over a generation like a fowl fungus!. It is for this reason that I am distressed by the absolute silence of our local government officials. Is there a contingency in place that would put an end to the building’s tax exempt status, thus allowing for the reassessment of the property to begin collecting a tax ratable?
To those who have worked tirelessly, for little or no compensation, in an effort to keep the legacy of St. Mary’s alive, you should feel honored that you gave it your best. To all the beautiful Sisters of St. Dominic, both present and past you are remembered in our prayers and devotions. Our hearts bleed for you the most.
To Bishop Galante, Msgr. Curran and Principal Gail Corey; we were taught by the Nuns that Christ preached to the poor, the downtrodden, the forgotten and the needy, NOT to the economic trends of convenience and an affluent demographic. You have failed us all miserably...and you have failed the countless generation who came before us, and who’s shoulders could no longer bear the weight of your gross incompetence and misguided ways.
“The Bells of Saint Mary’s...so Proudly Ring Out, While We Sing Out, Hail..Hail..Hail”
Gurick attended St. Mary’s. He was a member of St. Mary’s Parish Council, Gloucester City Council, Camden County Board of Freeholders and a life long resident of Gloucester City.