After years of declining enrollment and accompanying financial difficulties, St. Joseph School in Auburn will close its doors at the end of the school year in June 2020.
The request to close the school was jointly made “with sadness and regret” by the pastors and parochial vicars of the Auburn parishes in a letter to The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Rochester. Bishop Matano accepted the recommendation after consultation in early November with the Presbyteral Council, a council of priests from throughout the Diocese who advise the Bishop. Also consulting was the College of Consultors and the diocesan School Board.
In the current academic year, enrollment at the school is at a historical low of 93 students in grades preK-8th grade, with projected further enrollment declines. In making their recommendation, the pastors and parochial vicars cited “severe financial difficulty” in continuing to use the Auburn parishes’ resources to subsidize operation of the school. Enrollment has declined by about 25 students each year for the past several years.
“I remain firm in my commitment to Catholic schools,” Bishop Matano said, “with the hope that parents will choose a Catholic school education for their children so that increased enrollments will strengthen our Catholic schools. I truly empathize with the St. Joseph School community who desired a Catholic school education, but the low enrollment, the financial burden on the parishes and the depleted resources do not make this possible. I pray for their understanding and cooperation at this difficult time.”
“We know that news of the closure effective at the end of the school year in June 2020 will cause considerable sorrow and pain, not only for those families who are currently enrolled at St. Joseph’s School, but also for the countless others who have benefited from Catholic education in its long and remarkable history in Auburn. We, too, share in your sadness. Let us come together as a community of faith to not only mourn the loss of this beloved institution, but also to find ways to celebrate all the precious memories,” said the priests of the Auburn parishes, Father Frank Lioi, Father John Gathenya, Father Michael Brown and Father Justin Miller, in a public letter to the Auburn Catholic Community.
James Tauzel, interim diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said, “I am very grateful for the commitment to our children shown by Principal Mary Jo Keba and the teachers, staff and school families. All those involved at St. Joseph School through these many years have been tremendously dedicated to our students. The school may close, but wonderful memories will endure for those who passed through its doors and left well-prepared spiritually and academically to make a difference in their community.”