The Emotions When a Catholic School Closes

The Emotions When a Catholic School Closes

I feel for the students, staff, alumni and friends associated with Queen of Peace High School (77th & Linder) and its announcement this week that they are closing.

If you know me personally and/or read this blog regularly you know I’ve said “Catholic Schools are special” repeatedly.

I should know I attended four of them, Saint Columbanus (71st & Calumet), Seven Holy Founders (124th & Ada) for elementary school, Brother Rice High School (99th & Pulaski), & DePaul University in Lincoln Park.

I was the last graduating class at Seven Holy Founders, we closed in the spring of 1990, it’s hard to let that go, even when everything around you says, “this is it”.

Each of my schools had special people working in them and gave so much more than just religious curriculum. Yes on the lower levels you wear a uniform or dress code and it’s to your benefit.

Yes you learn about our wonderful faith and history but more than anything you get to be more than a number, the people there care and the atmosphere is so you succeed.

Look I attended a public school for six years too (Paul Revere Elementary 72nd & Ellis), it was good too but Catholic School is different, it’s hard, it challenges your faith, mind and yeah it’s expensive.

I was talking with a co-worker earlier this week who attended Mother McAuley (which is next door to Brother Rice), and yes enrollment is down at all Catholic Schools and tuition is up.

I started at Brother Rice in the fall of 1990 and I think tuition was around $ 2,500 (not chump change then), and now it’s around $ 11,000.

Queen of Peace tuition was around $ 10,500 and no that doesn’t cover everything, there’s fundraising, sports fees, books, you have to pay to have that dress code. You seemed to be nickeled and dimed around every corner.

But you’d be hard pressed to find someone who says it’s not worth it.

My mother attended the old Mercy High School in Chatham, she still talks about it and she graduated in 1961.

It leaves an impression on you, from your experiences, the friends you make, the mentors you follow and the sometimes beatings you took, physically & mentally.

Few things in my life were more challenging than my four years at Rice and few things were more rewarding.

I started becoming a man in that building, figuring out who I am and what I need to do. I learned patience, fortitude and to this day I try to live to the motto “Act Manfully in Christ Jesus”.

They gave me my first job as a student janitor (thanks Frank), and I joined my first team as a baseball equipment manager.

I continued my time as an altar server there and progressed in my faith to attend a Kairos retreat (# 28), and become a peer minister my senior year.

I graduated 23 years ago and not a couple days go by that I don’t use something from my time there, a lesson, a memory or a reason to do better.

I know times are changing, education isn’t what it used to be, and church isn’t what it used to be.

In the Joliet Diocese barely 20% of registered Catholics attend mass regularly and I have a ways to go to get back in that 20%.

In all things Catholicism attendance is down and costs are up, doesn’t mean faith is dying but some of the institutions are and anytime that happens it’s a sad day.

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