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St. Michael’s School in Flushing was granted a last−minute reprieve by the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese this week and will not close next year as initially planned.
The Flushing parochial school and St. Anthony of Padua School in South Ozone Park were both initially slated for closure by the diocese as part of a school reorganization plan detailed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio Friday that will see five Queens Catholic schools shutter their doors in June.
St. Michael’s was the only Queens school recommended for closure that will open its doors next year under the diocese’s umbrella.
“Throughout this process we were offered support from St. Michael’s Parish and parish staff, the parents, alumni and the Flushing community,” said St. Michael’s School Principal Maureen Rogone. “As Monsignor Wetterer and I recognize the responsibilities and challenges that lie ahead, we are confident that St. Michael’s School will continue to provide a quality Catholic education to the Flushing community.”
DiMarzio’s decision comes amid falling enrollment and rising costs throughout the Catholic school system in Brooklyn and Queens, which has led the diocese to close nearly a third of its schools in the past five years.
As part of a broad reorganization, DiMarzio said last week that St. Benedict Joseph Labre in Richmond Hill, St. Ann School in Flushing, St. Catherine of Sienna in Jamaica, Blessed Sacrament School in Jackson Heights and St. Aloysius School in Ridgewood will close their doors at the end of the school year.
“Change is never easy. Sometimes, it is even painful,” DiMarzio said. “My thoughts and prayers are with the students, parents and teachers whose schools will be consolidated in June. I want to assure you that we will do everything we can to assure that your child finds a seat in the school of your choice.”
Letters were sent to parents of children who attend St. Catherine’s that alerted them that the school would not be open for next year, according to Harry Jean, a Rochdale Village resident whose daughter, Hilary, is in the seventh grade at the school.
“It’s really sad. My daughter is doing very well and loves the school,” he said.
Under DiMarzio’s plan, five Queens schools will reopen in September as independent Catholic Academies, meaning they will be responsible for sustaining themselves financially moving forward.
Our Lady of Grace School in Howard Beach will reopen as Ave Maria Catholic Academy, St. Anastasia School in Little Neck will reopen as Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School in Ridgewood will reopen as Notre Dame Catholic Academy of Ridgewood.
St. Anthony of Padua School in Jamaica, originally slated to be closed by the diocese, will also open as an independent academy in September. St. Mary’s Nativity School in Flushing will also reopen as an academy in September, but it was not clear if it will maintain the same name.
DiMarzio said the changes were necessary for Catholic education to continue in the diocese, and said the future is bright.
“The next few years will bring exciting innovations, additional programs and the birth of new, quality academies that will pass on the vision of Catholic education for generations to come,” he said. “Together, let us resolve to begin this new chapter in Catholic school education together.”
Ivan Pereira contributed to this story.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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