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January 24, 2013

MORRIS: St. Mary’s school closing calls for unity

(Continued)

Principal Jeff Purichia has done wonders at that school in the three years he has been in charge. Father Tully was handed this mess when he arrived four years ago and has done everything possible to keep the school open and to help it prosper. He doesn’t want to see it closed. That is not his wish. 

But some have lashed out at him, and that is human nature I guess. We have to blame someone — why not the guy in the collar.  

It’s hard to ignore the facts. The school sits in the inner city and no longer draws children from the surrounding neighborhood like it once did. A few decades ago, 22 students with the last name of Traughber, Schaffner or Schindler attended either St. Mary’s or the old Holy Trinity Catholic School on Market Street. 

Those 22 students resided on the same dead end street in the St. Mary’s neighborhood — Greenaway Place. But today, there are probably not 22 students from a 10-mile area around St. Mary’s who attend the school, let alone one street. 

Times have changed and money is tight for many folks. Providing a Catholic education is no longer financially feasible for many, or as important to others.

What we don’t need at this time is a split congregation — church versus school. We have to be unified, support one another and begin the healing process that needs to occur following the internal turmoil and tension the past week has brought. I never want to sit through weekend Masses again where tension and anger take center stage over the word of God.  

While I was not shocked by the news of the school’s closure — knowing the debt we have amassed — I was a little surprised the archdiocese didn’t give us some kind of warning, or heads up, that 2013 could be the last for the school unless something drastic occurred. I never got that sense of urgency.

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