September 22, 2010
Thank you very much for your presence here today. l know there is much anticipation as people have been awaiting my decision regarding the proposed consolidation of St. Bavo, St. Joseph and St. Monica schools. Rather than just release a statement to the media, I wanted to announce my decision here in Mishawaka, first informing you, the pastors, principals, teachers and staffs of the affected schools. I am deeply grateful for your service of Catholic education and for your commitment to this noble mission. That is why I wish to make the announcement first to you.
On Friday, Sept. 3, I received the final proposal from the Mishawaka Catholic Schools Committee concerning the consolidation of St. Bavo, St. Joseph and St. Monica schools. The committee members voted unanimously to recommend to me that these three Catholic Schools be consolidated into one inter-parochial school. Today I wish to announce that I have accepted the committee's recommendation. The three above mentioned schools will close at the end of the academic year, 2010-2011, and open as one inter-parochial school, named Mishawaka Catholic School, in the fall of 2011.
I have accepted the recommendations of the committee because I believe that the consolidation will strengthen Catholic education in Mishawaka for the future. The consolidation of resources will benefit the Catholic school program in Mishawaka, providing more academic opportunities for middle school students and a high quality early childhood education program. It will allow for long-term financial stability through a more efficient and more effective management of resources.
The three parish schools that will be closing have educated several generations of children and have done so with excellence. In order for this excellence to continue and to grow, in light of declining enrollment and financial challenges at all three schools, it is necessary to consolidate these schools to ensure the future viability of Catholic elementary education in Mishawaka. Our commitment to excellent and strong Catholic education for our children requires us to look beyond our individual parishes and pool our human and financial resources for the best quality school we can provide for this and future generations of children in Mishawaka. I am convinced that the consolidation is not only the right decision at this time; it is the best decision for the future. Not to consolidate at this time would not only result in serious future debt for the three parishes involved, it would also not allow us to provide a stronger academic program because of the limited resources of separate schools. There is much good potential for growth and strengthened programming through the consolidation.
One of our major concerns in moving forward with this consolidation is the effect on the current teachers in the three schools to be consolidated. I have instructed the Catholic Schools Office to work within the diocesan school policies and take every appropriate measure to provide assistance to the displaced teachers as a result of this consolidation. Our Catholic Schools Office, our personnel manager, and the Diocesan Business Office staff will be available to work with the teachers who are affected by the consolidation.
While I realize that this change will be difficult for some people, I also know that there is solid support in the Mishawaka community for this consolidation. I call upon all the parishioners, both those who have supported the consolidation and those who have not, now to join together in support of the new Mishawaka Catholic School. Let us together reaffirm our commitment to Catholic education in Mishawaka. This new Catholic school is a wonderful opportunity to reinvigorate Catholic education in Mishawaka. Let us move forward with faith, courage and enthusiasm because Mishawaka Catholic School is so important for the future of the Church in this city. Catholic schools are one of our Church's primary missions, a vital part of the Church's teaching mission. Yes, we have been facing some difficult challenges, but the creativity and cooperation, the vision and the will, of so many give me hope that this new school will thrive, for the good of our children, the good of our families and the good of the Church. I am very grateful to all who have worked so diligently and so hard in preparing the consolidation plan, particularly the members of the Mishawaka Catholic Schools Committee. Thank you to all who have contributed to assist in this effort. Thank you to our devoted pastors, principals, teachers and staffs. May God bless all of you and may the Holy Spirit guide us as we move forward with the establishment of the Mishawaka Catholic School!