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Parent: Lack of Faith Led to St. Anthony Closure

Parents to come together in healing over end of an educational era.

Rayna Safi, mother of three former students, is still trying to cope with the announcement last month that the school would be closing.

"To say that trying to find a new school for our children has been an emotional and difficult task would be an understatement," she said. "It is hard to even look at other schools without having the constant reminder that this never should have happened rolling around my head. Every time I hear something about another school, all I can think of is how having the support of someone in charge would have made all the difference in the world."

On June 22, the school through a memo posted on the parish website. In it, the Rev. Mike Jones stated that declined student enrollment "has continued past the critical point," with 111 students enrolled for next year.

The school community knew about the risks of closure in May, but Principal Lynn Deluca said then for another year. Parents were adamant that and worked hard to raise money and enrollment numbers.

Since the announcement of the closure in June, parents have begun what some have labeled "grieving" over the loss of an institution near the hearts of their families. A farewell service is being held Sunday at noon at the school for families, staff members, alumni and friends to share memories of the school.

Read more Tri-Boro Patch coverage of St. Anthony of Padua School here.

Safi acknowledged that the closure of Catholic schools has become a trend within the current economic climate. Still, she feels that the school's leadership, particularly Jones, is to blame for the closure of the school. Instead of having faith that enrollment would increase in time for school, the leaders were busy pointing fingers at each other over who caused the closure, she said.

"It is very hard to have faith in a system that obviously does not care about Catholic education," she said. "If any of these 'Catholic' organizations had the slightest bit of faith, none of this would even be an issue now."

Jones did not wish to comment on this story or on questions relating to how the school closure has affected the parish.

Safi said she has now lost faith as well.

"I pulled my daughter out of public school in the fourth grade and put her in St. Anthony’s school because I felt it was a better option for her," she said. "I am now considering putting her back into public school because I have lost faith and trust in the people who are running the Catholic school system in this country."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Roman Catholic Diocese had given the school money to remain open another year.

Diane July 12, 2012 at 03:00 AM
I was absolutely blessed to have been part of this wonderful school for the past year as a teacher. The faculty, families, and children have truly touched my heart and I will forever remember my SAS family. Although we can all draw our own conclusions based on the set of information that we were given, I don't think we will ever really know for sure where things went wrong and why things turned out this way. St. Anthony's was a wonderful school where we all made life-lasting memories-- I had hoped that my future children would be SAS alumni, but it is not to be. During this very difficult time for all of us, I hope we can hold on to all of the positive experiences we have had at SAS and let go of any negativity that is in our hearts.
Diane July 12, 2012 at 03:02 AM
I also hope that the parents who worked so hard during the last few months know how much their work was appreciated and can rest knowing that we didn't go down without a fight.
Curious July 12, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Curious What's going to happen to the building of the school? Will it be rented out as with other catholic buildings?
Diane July 12, 2012 at 07:59 PM
The $50,000 was pledged, and no exchange took placed.
Local Mom July 15, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Curious....I doubt that the building will be rented out. If you check the Diocese of Paterson website, you will see that there are many empty school buildings available for rent. Also, St. Joe's in West Milford, which is a newer building, is losing their tenant. Then, taking into consideration the fact that SAS is not wheel chair accessible, does not have an elevator and is in need of many repairs, I would think anyone looking for a school building would look elsewhere. I, however, could be wrong and I truly hope that someone, in someway will fill those hallways with love and laughter again.

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