4 Houston-area Catholic schools forced to close due to ‘cataclysmic’ pandemic

Generic photo of a school classroom (Pixlr)

HOUSTON – Due to low enrollment and other financial problems, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston announced that it was forced to close four Catholic schools following the current academic year during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pastors and principals of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Queen of Peace and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Schools in Houston and St. Pius V Catholic School in Pasadena were informed about the decision on April 20. The four schools impacted had enrollments of less than 100 students and only utilized 40% of their capacity, which required an extensive amount of financial support from the Archdiocese.

“Unfortunately, this global crisis has gravely affected the Archdiocese and our ability to financially sustain every school,” said Debra Haney, superintendent of Catholic Schools. “With parishioners across the Archdiocese being hit with uncertainty in their jobs, offertory donations and contributions to parishes and schools have been significantly reduced. Our parishes and schools and the Chancery offices have had to weigh the unspeakable sacrifices of having to furlough and let go of their staff members.”

“This was a very difficult decision for all of us with the Archdiocese to make, especially during a very difficult time for so many,” said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston. “Catholic schools strive to educate the whole person and the declining enrollment in these schools made it more challenging to fulfill that mission. We had hoped that we would have more time to help these affected schools work through their significant challenges, but the cataclysmic effects of this pandemic have left us with no options – which breaks our hearts. That said, the timing of this Office for Communications Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston announcement was intended to give both families and teachers the maximum amount of time to prepare for the upcoming transition.”

The Archdiocese said it will offer the families of the 257 students enrolled at the four closing schools the opportunity to receive a one-time credit towards their tuition at another Catholic school next year. The Catholic Schools Office said it will work to place the principals and teachers from the schools identified for closure in new positions.

“Closing schools is a situation that we have prayed fervently would pass us by, but it now looms before us. I am truly sorrowful that this is the situation that we are in at this time. We have always been one family of Catholic Schools, united in faith and mission and the loss of any Catholic school diminishes us in spirit more than I can express," Haney said. “It is with heavy hearts but with enduring faith that we move forward to close out the academic year.”

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