Families Raise $335K, But Archdiocese Will Still Close Lawrence School

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV

LAWRENCE (CBS) – Families in Lawrence say the feel betrayed by their church. A catholic school will be shut down for good next month, even after parents and students say they raised more than $300,000 in a week.

The parents thought they had a chance to save the school.

“I felt that my legs were cut off. Really that is how I felt,” said Anna Cardenas, whose daughter in seventh grade at Saint Mary of the Assumption School in Lawrence.

Next fall 270 students from kindergarten through eighth grade will have to find a new school. The Archdiocese made the announcement Friday citing the school’s financial problems.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports.

But parents are angry. They say they worked tirelessly for months and got commitments from donors for $335,000, and that Cardinal O’Malley, who promised them a conversation, will not even meet with them.

Rosa Munoz has a daughter in fourth grade. “We felt deceived. We worked so hard,” she said. “We made every attempt to meet the goals and we were not even heard.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports.

The 150-year-old school is owned by the Archdiocese of Boston, but it is run by the religious order known as the Augustinians. Father Jorge Reyes is the Pastor, who would like to see the school remain open.

The Pastor tells WBZ-TV the decision to close the school was made the Archdiocese of Boston. The Archdiocese says the decision was made by the religious order the Augustinians. The Pastor tells WBZ-TV he believes the Archdiocese is simply trying to distance itself from an unpopular decision.

However, in a statement late Monday the Archdiocese made it clear it all came down to money. It read, in part, “When a school is in such deep debt and can’t pay its bills or meet its payroll, it is impossible to keep the school open.”

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese added “…there are no tangible resources available despite public reports.”

As for Pastor Reyes, he found out last week he is now being replaced as of July 1.

The Boston Archdiocese also tells WBZ-TV, “On two occasions, St. Mary’s was offered the opportunity to merge with the recently formed and highly successful Lawrence Catholic Academy, and both times St. Mary’s pastor declined the offer.”

Full Statement from the Archdiocese of Boston:

As far back as 2008 St. Mary of the Assumption School in Lawrence fell into financial debt despite significant financial support from the Catholic Schools foundation (CSF) and from the Archdiocese of Boston.

During the past two years, the Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Office and the Chancellor’s Office have continuously worked with St. Mary of the Assumption School. On two occasions, St. Mary’s was offered the opportunity to merge with the recently formed and highly successful Lawrence Catholic Academy (LCA). Both times St. Mary’s pastor declined the offer.

The Archdiocese has extended hundreds of thousands of dollars of subsidy to St. Mary of the Assumption School to keep its bills and obligations current. It has done so with no assured means of repayment. The Augustinian Province of St. Thomas of Villanova has provided guidance to the School. On several occasions during the past two years the Province of St. Thomas Villanova has have made it clear that the Province does provide financial aid for parish based elementary schools. The Province reiterated that position in recent weeks. When a school is in such deep debt and can’t pay its bills or meet its payroll, it is impossible to keep the school open.

While it is admirable that supporters of St. Mary’s School would like to raise the funds to keep the school open there are no tangible resources available despite public reports. In addition, any funds raised by the parish would have to address the very significant debt which makes it impossible to address the issue of long-term viability and sustainability of the school. All available means of support have been fully exhausted regarding St. Mary of the Assumption School.

–Terry Donilon, Spokesman

More from Bernice Corpuz
  • petem

    “Rosa Munoz, mother of a fourth-grader, tells The Eagle-Tribune she feels lied to.” So she finally gets what all the rest of us former catholic church parishioners have felt for that last x # of decades…
    It’s nothing but a money-making cult… guesses about the archdioceses’ answer when the good people of Lawrence want their $ back? It ain’t gonna be “sure here you go”…

  • eddwal50

    well what did the expectt from the cardinal the jerk say a $35,000 profit

    • eddwal50

      correction i was trying to say he saw a $35,000 profit

  • Patrick O’Malley


    You’re angry and surprised be cause the Catholic church lied to you about a school closing? They lied about child rape, for God’s sake, and I say it that way because they say they did it for the sake of God.

    Consider yourself lucky that they closed your school and didn’t rape your child.

  • dennis

    The catholic church is a business and nothing more,nothing, a very profitable one at that, when will people wake up and see that

  • righttrack

    The church will probably keep the money to pay off another molestation case. It’s all a crock !!! religion is for the weak-minded who can’t comprehend science or reality.

    • biomaster

      lol!!! Let me guess, you have a Science degree? Probably not, unlike myself. I am also an active member at my church. Weak-minded? If you say so, better than being narrow-minded like yourself!

  • Janine

    To speak in such a generalized manner is an outcry. While this particular Catholic school may have lied to its parents and students, I have my children enrolled in a fabulous Catholic school. I work in the public school system and would not dream of having my children transferred. I pay monthly because I know that my children are well cared for by a family of teachers who have known them since they were very small. Every church is there to make a profit if not the Christian churches would not require a tenth of their followers paychecks to go to them. Not every priest is a rapist, just like not every white male is a serial killer. Let’s begin to talk facts about particular situations and stop with the generalized statements!

  • gary simone ct

    is anyone surprised by out of touch Bishops and the higher ups are ???,, Sad but they still act like they are above us all,,They sad past is why did O Mally not meet with the parents?? ,,go figure, yes there are many great Catholic schools, but not as many as you think

  • Kristine

    Did they check with the school first before raising the money?!!

  • MamaKas

    Give the parents back their money at least.

  • jack

    Seriously,The writers name is ” Joe Shirtsleeve”

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