NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Archdiocese of New York is closing 20 Catholic schools and merging three others, including St. Stephen-St. Edward in Warwick, Orange County.
Resident Brian Currid and his wife told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez they were blindsided by the news.
“We feel like we’ve been undermined. A lot of what we do in the schools we funded ourselves,” Currid said. “And it has done through donations and it has done through hard work and commitment, not only by the teachers and students, but also by parents that volunteer. And this is being taken from us right now. It has been taken from us overnight. And it’s not right.”
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Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan said the archdiocese agonized over the decision for two months. Thursday morning, the school superintendent emailed families detailing the various closures, saying “…schools have fallen victim to the financial fallout of the coronavirus.” The letter claimed families couldn’t pay tuition and unopened churches saw a loss in parish funds that help support the schools.
“None of these were failing schools. They were all A-plus schools,” Dolan said. “It’s just they weren’t getting the registration that we needed.”
The closures affect 2,500 students and 350 staff. One of the parents, Joe Gargiulo, said communities weren’t given a chance to save their schools.
“We’re shocked at this. There’s been no dialogue whatsoever. No communication from the diocese,” said Gargiulo. “No creative thinking as far as we’re concerned. We are absolutely devastated by this decision.”
Gargiulo’s children, like Currid’s, went to St. Stephen-St. Edward, which is now merging with two schools about 15 miles away in Goshen. The Gargiulos, along with others from permanently closed schools, are now scrambling to figure out what to do in the fall.
“We’ve talked homeschooling. We’ve talked going to Goshen. We’ve talked the public school system and actually leaving New York and just moving. It’s a shame,” said Currid.
With additional closures of six Catholic academies in Brooklyn and Queens, parishioners are worried about the impact on the Catholic Church as a whole.
“More than ever Catholic schools are needed for the future of our religion, our faith,” said Gargiulo. “To hear and see that this closure is happening, and others we assume that’s forthcoming is incredibly disappointing and, frankly, it’s a lack of leadership on the diocese’s part.”
The archdiocese said if it doesn’t get financial assistance from the HEROES Act, currently sitting before Congress, more schools may close.