PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two schools in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are closing due to declining enrollment and ongoing financial problems.
The merged Bishop Leonard-St. Mary of the Mount Academy on Mt. Washington, with an enrollment of about 140 students, and St. Joan of Arc School in South Park, with 77 students, will both be closing at the end the current school year.
“The closing breaks my heart,” Rev. Michael Stumpf, of St. Mary of the Mount Parish, told KDKA-TV. “This is a merged school, so these families are already in transition.”
The closures were announced today in a press release and parishioners at both churches were told at Masses this weekend.
“We’ve been getting a run-around for a year; it’s a very sad, difficult day,” Paula Duffy, a parent who has three children enrolled in the Mt. Washington school, said.
Pittsburgh Catholic Bishop David Zubik told KDKA-TV: “It’s always sad when a school has to close, but there are new and exciting opportunities for the youngsters [who attend the two schools].”
The Diocese says there are at least five other elementary schools in close proximity that could accommodate students from the two schools facing closure.
In the press release, Fr. Kris Stubna, the secretary for Catholic Education in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said: “It is always a difficult and painful decision to close schools. Each time we have done so in our own diocese, it is only after we follow a well-established process — involved consultation with parish and school leadership and with diocesan officials, in an effort to determine long-term viability.
“Obviously, however, given enrollment declines and financial difficulties, some schools simply cannot continue. These are never easy decisions but ones that pastors must make at times for the good of the Church.”