21 Aug 2014
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Parent: Lack of Faith Led to St. Anthony Closure

Parents to come together in healing over end of an educational era.

Parent: Lack of Faith Led to St. Anthony Closure

Rayna Safi, mother of three former students, is still trying to cope with the announcement last month that the school would be closing.

"To say that trying to find a new school for our children has been an emotional and difficult task would be an understatement," she said. "It is hard to even look at other schools without having the constant reminder that this never should have happened rolling around my head. Every time I hear something about another school, all I can think of is how having the support of someone in charge would have made all the difference in the world."

On June 22, the school through a memo posted on the parish website. In it, the Rev. Mike Jones stated that declined student enrollment "has continued past the critical point," with 111 students enrolled for next year.

The school community knew about the risks of closure in May, but Principal Lynn Deluca said then for another year. Parents were adamant that and worked hard to raise money and enrollment numbers.

Since the announcement of the closure in June, parents have begun what some have labeled "grieving" over the loss of an institution near the hearts of their families. A farewell service is being held Sunday at noon at the school for families, staff members, alumni and friends to share memories of the school.

Read more Tri-Boro Patch coverage of St. Anthony of Padua School here.

Safi acknowledged that the closure of Catholic schools has become a trend within the current economic climate. Still, she feels that the school's leadership, particularly Jones, is to blame for the closure of the school. Instead of having faith that enrollment would increase in time for school, the leaders were busy pointing fingers at each other over who caused the closure, she said.

"It is very hard to have faith in a system that obviously does not care about Catholic education," she said. "If any of these 'Catholic' organizations had the slightest bit of faith, none of this would even be an issue now."

Jones did not wish to comment on this story or on questions relating to how the school closure has affected the parish.

Safi said she has now lost faith as well.

"I pulled my daughter out of public school in the fourth grade and put her in St. Anthony’s school because I felt it was a better option for her," she said. "I am now considering putting her back into public school because I have lost faith and trust in the people who are running the Catholic school system in this country."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Roman Catholic Diocese had given the school money to remain open another year.

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