First churches, then schools

We’ve already had some posts on this blog that deal with Catholic church closings and consolidations in our cities. And we know that closing churches can be a painful, emotional process for neighborhoods and parishioners, as this upset letter to the editor, recently published in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer demonstrates:

“Although forced by the realties of declining membership, Bishop Lennon’s decision to close churches will escalate Cleveland’s descent into oblivion,” one man wrote. “In addition to serving as the last vestiges of a once-thriving ethnic culture in Cleveland, churches promoted a degree of stability and brought suburbanites back into the city, if only on Sundays.”

This story in Monday’s Plain Dealer highlights another problem: declining enrollment in parish schools.

Because of a consolidation plan that will reduce the Cleveland Catholic Diocese by 52 parishes, the article reports, many schools could face tough choices – or close all together.

“The closing of a parish doesn’t automatically mean its school will close as well, the story states. “But low enrollment – particularly in Cleveland and some inner-ring suburbs – is driving new rounds of discussion about mergers and closings.

Bishop Richard G. Lennon has already met with leaders of 13 schools on Cleveland’s East Side. Pastors and principals from 18 other schools were invited to a daylong session Friday.

All their parish clusters got the word in “reconfiguration letters” delivered March 14: They must give enrollment and finances a hard look and work together on consolidation plans, due by the end of October.”

Stay tuned for more on how this story develops…

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