St. Pauls School Closing Saga Continues

The saga over the mismanagement by the Boston Archdiocese of the closing of St. Paul school in Wellesley continues. Here is an article in The Swellesley Report, “With faith shaken, St. Paul School parents try to set record straight on closing.” Below you’ll see the letter that parents sent to all St. Paul parishioners:

Dear Parishioners of St. Paul Parish,

On Sunday, July 26, a letter from Fr. Sepe appeared in the St. Paul Parish bulletin announcing the closing of St. Paul School. This letter implied that a lack of commitment on the part of school families was the cause of the school’s failure. This implication could not be further from the truth, and the parents of St. Paul School once again find themselves deeply disturbed by decisions and communications with regard to our school. We write to you now to set the record straight and make you aware of the following:

  • The school did not close due to a lack of commitment on the part of the parents, or because demand for the school did not exist. It was certainly not “clinging to only 32 students,” as you are being led to
  • The closing of Paul School was completely preventable. In fact, great strides had been made over the course of the year to turn it around and set it up for a bright future.

It is true that over the past several years the school has experienced a decline in enrollment. The cause of this decline is well­documented as due to the actions as well as inaction of our pastors under the advisement of the Boston Catholic Schools Office. However, the actions of the parents, under the leadership of their principal and the guidance of an independent consultant, were to engage in a series of initiatives to breathe new life into the school. To alleviate financial pressure on the parish, we undertook an ambitious Annual Fund campaign. The end result is the largest Annual Fund balance known to St. Paul School. Sixty thousand dollars of the reported $85,000 balance was raised only among the parents and teachers of St. Paul School. It is very likely that this fund would have exceeded $100,000 if the requests to speak at Masses were granted.

On two occasions ­­ in March from Fr. Rafferty and in June from Fr. Sepe ­­ parents received written commitments that the school would be open for the 2015­2016 year. These commitments had no other stipulations. The expectations were that our pastors’ written words would be their bond.

In the last week of April, school parents ­­ who had already submitted re­enrollment deposits in March ­­ received a letter from the Parish office raising the initial $200 non­refundable deposit to an unprecedented $1,500 due July 15th. This policy was described as coming directly from the Boston Catholic Schools Office. It was flawed, ill­conceived and poorly communicated, causing uncertainty relative to the commitment to St. Paul School’s continued mission. Countless requests to reconsider the deposit increase were ignored.

Adding to the fears and uncertainty of parents, on April 23rd our principal was terminated effective immediately, despite a clear upward trajectory and measurable achievements in fundraising and admissions. On the Thursday of Spring vacation, she was told to clean out her office by Saturday, and an interim principal was in her place the returning Monday with no explanation. The timing and manner of our principal’s forced exit demoralized our community, and in this mailing we share with you our collective communication responding to the event.

Following the termination of the principal, school parents pleaded with Fr. Sepe to reach out and engage the school community to assuage their fears and concerns. By ignoring these pleas, he cast further doubt about the long­term plan for St. Paul School, and previously­committed families started to pull their enrollment.

It wasn’t until the evening of the day he announced the school closing that Fr. Sepe finally afforded parents the opportunity to meet with him. It became clear at this meeting that more than 32 deposit increases had been paid; in fact, our polling after the meeting has shown that close to 50 deposit increases were paid. Additionally, there were a number of parents who did not pay for financial reasons or out of principle, but who indicated to the Parish office that their children would attend St. Paul School in the fall. At no point were parents notified that if they didn’t turn in this deposit increase, the school would close. The rushed nature of the closing and obvious disregard for due diligence regarding a decision with such resounding ramifications leaves us in utter disbelief.

Parishioners should be concerned about the closing of St. Paul School for many reasons. First and foremost, the manner and timing of the school’s closing has caused great distress and grief among children, families and dedicated teachers. Parents and teachers were told numerous times that the school would be available, and are now scrambling to find alternatives. For many, their faith is shaken. We believe that our parishioners and alumni would have risen to the occasion to prevent such a devastating event if they had only been given the opportunity to decide whether to come to the school’s aid.

Our children are the future of the Church and Catholic schools are the cornerstone of the church’s mission of evangelization. The children of St. Paul School have been the lifeblood of the parish for over 60 years. We ask you now to stand by St. Paul School by contacting the office of Cardinal Archbishop Sean O’Malley and voicing the following:

  • Your objections that the school was closed ­­ a consequential and far-­reaching decision for the parish ­­ with no consultation or outreach to you, and for the manner in which this closing was carried
  • Your support in the return of all Paul School Annual Fund monies raised under the “Believe in Our Future: 60th Anniversary Fund” campaign.
  • Your request for intercession on behalf of our principal, who was inexplicably terminated under conditions that leave us concerned for her
  • Your insistence that a thorough investigation into the role of the Boston Catholic Schools Office be undertaken, and that individuals are held responsible for failing to carry out the mission of strengthening Catholic

Please help us shine the light on St. Paul School so that what happened here will not happen to another Catholic school in this Archdiocese.

Yours sincerely,

# Parents of St. Paul School in Support of this Letter

To engage with the Parents of St Paul group on Facebook, click here.

15 Responses to St. Pauls School Closing Saga Continues

  1. D Paul says:

    You have to look at a “common denominator”. Here in St. Louis, now Cardinal Raymond Burke was ridden out of town with proof in emails from the St. Louis Chancery. The next step was to target the Latin Mass. The rector of this parish was sent back to Germany for allowing criticism of the abortion policies of then Senator Obama. This is an exact parallel to what is happening in Boston. In October, the Synod on the Family will unleash the truth on the true agenda of Pope Francis. Conservatives better be ready.

    • Ferde Rombola says:

      Pope Borgoglio learned his art from the Perons. He is no less a dictator then they were. He is not a Catholic and should be removed from the Chair of Peter.

  2. Mike says:

    As a product of Catholic education from K-Grad School, happily in another time when it meant and taught something, I am dumb-founded and so fundamentally sorry for these poor children. It is they, dear priests and shepherd, who have been thrown to the wolves. These little ones will now have to live with an education devoid of Christ. This is on you who will have to live with this disgrace and account for it before the True Judge. I will pray for you so that Our Lord will show you the mercy and conversion of heart you so desparetly need. I am a sinful man who every day falls short of the glory of God, as are you, dear readers, and we struggle each day so that a millstone will not be tied to our necks. Despite this, somethings need to be called out, TY BC Insider! “How long, oh Lord, how long…”. My money, (which I no longer share with the Archdiocese), is on the Cardinal not lifting finger to help from whatever jet or reception he is currently engaged with.

  3. Denise Marie says:

    Just homeschool your children. Their spirituality will grow exponentially, they will get a great education for a fraction of the cost of sending them to a public school, and you will be amazed at what you will learn about the faith yourselves. Seton has a fabulous program, as does Mother of Divine Grace. Your children can be enrolled in these programs and you will have everything you need to educate them at home and have as much or as little oversight as you wish. If they follow these programs through high school, they will earn a high school diploma which is important for many families. The Catholic Church’s CCD programs are and have been abysmal for the past 50 years, so very few of us are properly catechized. Think of this as God’s second chance to you and your family! By the way, Fr. Sepe was pastor here in Braintree for many years, and had a very business like approach to running the Church, so this doesn’t surprise me. I could site some examples, but I won’t do so here.

    • Denise Marie says:

      I meant private school, not public. Sorry for the confusion!

    • Little Red Hen says:

      Denise Marie, when Fr. Sepe was appointed pastor of the Wellesley collaborative, school parents were told by a priest who was a higher-up in Pastoral Planning that Fr. Sepe was the archdiocese’s Number One Pastor and that he had been hand-picked by the Cardinal to go to Wellesley and make a success of it. So please describe Fr. Sepe’s business-like approach to parish management, because we don’t see how closing a school can be compatible with it.

  4. Bob says:

    We had something similar happen a few years ago, except the parents were told on the last day of the school year that the school was closing. The diocese had promised to carry the inner city school for another year, but the parents and the staff were unhappy with the principal and Common Core being stuffed down everyone’s throats. So much for parents being the prime educators of their children and teachers who teach.
    None of the teachers found jobs with the the diocese and the bishop is far too concerned with his cathedral and, now, the environment and his trips to the Vatican.

  5. Another O’Malley disaster. He is of course a friend of our liberal pope. may the Spirit help us all.

  6. Sheila Flanagan says:

    Please, please, please take advantage of the New England Immaculate Heart of Mary Home Schooling Conference being held in Lowell TOMORROW:

    http://www.ihmconference.org/newengland/
    Friday August 14th, 2015
    12:00pm to 6:00pm
    UMass Lowell Inn and
    Conference Center
    50 Warren St.
    Lowell, MA 01852

    If you need encouragement to try home schooling you will find it at the conference – it is the future of the Catholic Church.
    Several excellent Catholic Home Study curriculums will be available.

    Seton Home Study School highly recommended here for both academic and spiritual excellence.

  7. Chris Mac says:

    Call NECN. Call Channel 4,5,7. Ask the consumer reporters to help and talk about the money. File suit and demand all the paperwork involved, communications with the archdiocese, etc. (It’s Wellesley, one of the parents must be a lawyer.)

  8. Joyful Noise says:

    Someone needs to seek advice of an attorney. The donations to support the school were restricted gifts. They were only made to support that school. If not used for that purpose all donations should be returned. There are occasions after great passage of time that the funds may be used for another purpose but there is great oversight and lots of legal hurdles involved with that.

    See:
    http://www.mass.gov/ago/doing-business-in-massachusetts/public-charities-or-not-for-profits/information-for-existing-charities/donor-restricted-gifts.html

    Also, a quick call to the Public Charities Division of the AG’s Office may be the easiest and most effective step at this point.

  9. Corrina says:

    I am so sorry for all the families that have been hurt. I do not know what it is going to take for the Archdiocese to wake up. Children are the future of the Catholic church. No wonder people lose faith.

  10. John O'Gorman says:

    The parents should be given the school to run it themselves. Parishioners cannot depend on Cardinal O’Malley or the Archdiocese of Boston, who are running a “going out of business sale” for many years – closing churches, schools and giving away the 6 Caritas Christi hospitals. God bless all.

    John O’Gorman, LifeJohn@AOL.com

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