The Diocese of Youngstown website states, “We are a vibrant community of believers ...” However, with our schools and churches closing, we will not remain vibrant for long. There is no investment in our Catholic youth.
The DOY alleges schools are faltering because of declining enrollment and lack of parental support. No. Our schools are failing because of a lack of honest and dependable leadership. Consequently, not only are the schools empty, but so are the pews on Sunday.
St. Joseph-Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Austintown is the most recent school closure. Regardless of whether or not the decision was right, the way it was done was wrong. In 10 years, we have watched St. Brendan’s, St. Steven’s, St. Mary and Joseph, and SJIHM fall victim to the DOY formula: send a letter home on a Friday with students, while the staff sits in a room waiting to be informed. It is cowardly and despicable.
In addition, to repeatedly berate the school principals in front of students and parents in an attempt to break their spirit and discredit their names is deplorable. To ask parents to raise funds, market the schools, go to meetings, all the while planning their demise in closed board rooms is unforgiveable. Any person asked to join any committee put together by the DOY will be their next fall guy. They will ask for your opinion, push it aside, and blame you for the outcome.
The trend the diocese has set over the last decade has been to close schools and churches in strategic fashion with little regard for the calculated loss of people. What they have not considered is that those families displaced are not only leaving our schools, they are leaving our churches.
The DOY has a plan for the Catholic schools in Youngstown. Do not for one second believe this is anything other than a business. The commodity they are playing with is the lives of our children.
Though we consider our leaders experts in matters of theology and faith, they are not experts in how families are affected by the destruction of these communities. More schools will close, and in turn, so will more churches. It will be done swiftly and without care for the families it will affect, the teachers it will displace and the lives it will alter.
The bishop is choosing this course of action willingly and knowingly. Many pastors are following blindly. Who will be next?
Nicole Fryfogle and Molly Faloon, Youngstown
Fryfogle and Faloon are co-chairwomen of the Concerned Catholic School Supporters Committee.