2005-02-18 / Editorial/Opinion

Do Not Go Easy On Acceptance Of School Closing

The Bishop has spoken and many Catholics are loath to challenge what he has to say. That he had decided to close the St. Virgilius School, a pillar of the community for the past 80 years, matters little. After all, Frank De Rosa, a long-time spokesman for the Brooklyn Diocese said, “there is no appeal process from the decision to close the schools.” The Broad Channel parents impacted by the sudden closing should know, however, that there is always an appeal process and that is in the court of public opinion. Of all the schools that will close, St. Virgilius is in a unique position. It is situated on an island with no other parochial school nearby to take up the slack. Many of the other schools that have been ordered to close will team with another, nearby school and the students will be automatically accommodated at the school that remains open. That is not true of Broad Channel’s school. There are no nearby parochial schools to team with. For parents who want their children to have a religious education, there are no easy options. St. Virgilius was the only game in town and now it is gone. Many parishioners worry that the school closing predicts the closing of the parish. That may well be true. One parent said it best when she said to a reporter, “The basis of the Church is family. If you don’t have a school, how can the parish survive?” When that decision comes, it will already be too late for the Catholic residents of Broad Channel. The time to make a stand is now. Hit the streets. Use the media. Back church leaders into a corner. Take back the contingency fund appropriated by the diocese. Raise money. Get your elected officials involved. It is now up to you. Only the Broad Channel community can save the St. Virgilius School and it will not be done through silence.

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