“Teach your children well... and feed them on your dreams”
The Archdiocese has announced the closing of six more parochial schools. Sadly for the students, the parents and the Kingsbridge community, one of these closings is Visitation School. Compounding this sadness is that this decision follows in the near-wake of the loss of Visitation Parish itself.
While Visitation is not the largest or the most highlighted school in the Archdiocese, it has stood tall in the fulfilling of its Catholic mission as well as being a learning beacon for the community. Tucked away on a tidy side street, this modest sized school has seen nothing but achievements — achievements always matching and, quite often, exceeding the aims and the goals that define excellence in education. This fact is, and has been, evident to all who take the time to notice and who take the time to care. Given this recent decision, we must only conclude that the decision makers of the Archdiocese in general and its “stranger” in particular have neither the time nor the inclination to notice or to care.
The closing of this school or of any school in this diocese makes no sense, but then again, what sense did it make to close 50 churches? One has to wonder why the hierarchy of this diocese is so willing and so quick to surrender in the face of an economic challenge and so willing and so quick to see closure as their only option or default position.
Through the pain of losing our church and now our school, we never have had that question answered; rather, we are left with that troubling contradiction that sees a hierarchy preach sacrifice while pleading poverty — poverty in the form of expense and deficit entries in a ledger column. This is not a good enough response, and never has been, because it resides within the realm of hypocrisy and insults the school’s hardworking families who know sacrifice and who know the good reason (and outcome) for their sacrifice.
We are seeing stewardship at its worst. Moreover, we are seeing the true and unforgiving distance between the hierarchy and the faithful. To wit:
Where is there an acknowledgement of the dedication and of the economic sacrifices on the part of the families of Visitation School so that their children can have the best education afforded to them?
Where is there a recognition for the selfless dedication of the school’s staff — a staff that prevailed and excelled through the inspired generation of Sister Rose and now with her good and honorable successor, Mr White?
Where is the sense of responsibility for continuing the purpose and, yes, the sacrifices that those who came before us wrought and in doing so made the parochial school system a lasting model for the secular community?
My God!.. Where is even the decency of “ explaining” your decision personally while adhering to one’s word.
Sadly, we know the answers to these questions.
Understanding the core mission of this Archdiocese at its founding and never forgetting the commitment and the determination and, again, the sacrifices of each generation that went before us, no school should ever be closed in answer to the demand of the ledger column. Our schools are the jewel of the Archdiocese and the living legacy of those who stood the wall and made the necessary sacrifices before us. We should expect no less determination or sacrifice from today’s hierarchy. The question is quite simple: What is the cost to the Archdiocese for the closing of these schools and what will be the price to the future of not just to the Archdiocese but to the city as well?
May God bless all those parents, teachers and members of the Kingsbridge family that stood the wall this generation and did what had to be done in order to teach the children... And may we as a community stand tall one last time this June when that last class walks out and Visitation says goodbye.