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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.

Larry Huyler July 11, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Enrollment in private schools across the country have been a steady decline, mostly due to the economy. Will it get any better. Don't hold your breath.
Dianne M. Struble July 11, 2012 at 10:56 AM
So what happened to the 50,000 dollars that the parents raised in one week to keep the school open? I'd like to see the answer to that question. It shouldn't go to the church! It should be given back. Otherwise, that is stealing from the children.
Local Mom July 11, 2012 at 12:05 PM
The grief is still so raw. I have moved forward in signing my children up at another Catholic School because I absolutely believe in the value of a Catholic Education. Selecting a new school was beyond difficult. I could not enter any school with an open heart as I had done when visiting St. Anthony's for the first time. I have seen first hand how wonderful an experience SAS has been for my children and I'm hoping we will find that again. But I worry. I worry that I will face this again in a few years. The school I am going to sound. is It has the same enrollment now that St. Anthony's had when I started there 8 years ago. If the powers that be cannot find a new approach to maintaining the Catholic Education system, I fear my own children will not have the opportunity to give their children the same loving, safe and academically inspiring experience. Can no one see a different path? We need leaders with vision and insight. The world is changing and the Catholic Church must change with it or be lost.
eva July 11, 2012 at 12:38 PM
It is sad to lose one's faith. We must remember that priests are human, and therefore flawed. Some have talents of orator, some have talents of comfort, others have talents simply for accounting, but none of them are perfect or "God-like"! Your faith is inside you and tested in times like these. I hope you find it again, wherever your children attend school!
Dianne M. Struble July 11, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Karen so lovely of you to yell about getting facts straight! No facts were given in any articles to get straight!
Dianne M. Struble July 11, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Any information I had was from articles. It's a shame the school closed. Our son went there. Maybe Karen, you could figure out a way not to sound so mean in your comments.
Lynn DeLuca July 11, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Mrs. DeLuca Re: Parent: Lack of Faith Led to St. Anthony School Closure Parents to come together in healing over end of an educational era - By Ariana Cohn-Sheehan- July 10, 2010 As the former principal of St. Anthony of Padua School, I am appalled that the Tri-Boro Patch news organization did not contact me to check their facts prior to printing this article. The article states that “Principal Lynn DeLuca said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson had given the school enough money to remain open for another year.” This information is simply not true. Throughout the past several months, at no time did I ever communicate to parents, staff, or any other potential constituents that the Diocese provided funds for the 2012-2013 school operating budget. However, now the damage is done, and this erroneous information unfortunately lives on. Most likely it will inspire additional commentary, albeit based on misinformation. As we have all seen by the comments printed herein the past several weeks, the closing of St. Anthony of Padua School has caused angst and fear amongst some, and shoddy reporting does not help the situation. The Patch has a responsibility to this community to print the facts. I implore them to get it right the next time they go to print by doing their homework.
George July 11, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Care to comment Ariana?
Ariana Cohn-Sheehan (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 04:34 PM
In reporting the previous article, I was informed that accommodations were made to keep the school open. However, based on the information you have posted above, I have posted a correction to this article and apologize for the error.
Karen July 11, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Dianne dont take my comments so personally, they werent intended to be mean or directed at you.
Matt July 11, 2012 at 06:31 PM
This is the problem with journalist today, no one checks to see if the information is correct. I wonder what else we are being misinformed about.
Anonymous July 12, 2012 at 02:52 AM
It's so sad. Can't believe they did that to my school
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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