St. Rose school to close
at end of school year
St. Rose School in Proctor will close following the 2012-13 school year, it was announced to the parish at Masses on Saturday and Sunday
Bishop Paul D. Sirba of the Diocese of Duluth accepted the recommendation of officials at St. Rose School to close the 90 year old school. St. Rose staff were informed of the decision last week Father Joel Hastings said.
“I know it is with sadness that you and your parishioners have come to this decision,” the bishop wrote in his letter to the school’s pastor, Father Hastings. “I share your grief and hold you all in my prayers. The loss of a Catholic school is a loss felt by the entire Catholic community and is a matter for sorrow, but also hope — for we believe in the Risen Lord!”
He offered his support and presence and noted that the parish has “sacrificially supported” St. Rose School since 1924. “Your parish boards and councils, the excellent school staff and volunteers and all the parishioners can hold their heads high and know that for almost 90 years they have provided an opportunity to area families to receive a Catholic education.” He encouraged school families to consider sending their children to another area Catholic school.
Father Hastings said financial realities and declining membership in the parish along with declining enrollment at the school itself were part of long-term trends that had left no good options to keep the school open.
Proctor Mayor Dave Brenna expressed his sadness on hearing the news. “I am deeply disappointed. The school has bee a good anchor to our community.”
Jim Rohweder was in the first eighth grade graduating class of the new school in 1962 with about 30 other students. For him, it was heart wrenching but necessary.
Rohweder serves on the parishes finance council and made the motion to close the school. “It was a tough decision,” he stated. “I feel bad for the staff.”
Rohweder, Proctor’s city administrator and former mayor, hopes the loss to the community is not sever. “My children attended the school and St. Rose provided an outstanding Christen based education with its small class size and great teachers.”
“Anytime you loss a religious institution it is a loss to the community and it takes away an option for people,” he said. “Now we have to decide what to do with the building and how the mission of parish may change. There is a lot of decision will have to be made,” Rohweder added.
Daniel Hoffman, a former Proctor city council and city administrator who was also the president of the church council in the early 1970’s, graduated from St. Rose along with Rohweder. “This is disappointing news. St. Rose did an excellent job of educating the students while also fostering the Christian attitude of loving your neighbor,” he stated.
“St. Rose was fortunate to have Sister Marilynn who was the principal when I attended,” he recalled. “You can tell her genuine concern was creating an environment for educating students.a clear distinction between the teachers, incredibly dedicated. teachers less concerned about material gain and more concerned about kids lives.”
“I is sad to see it go,” Hoffman lamented. “St. Rose always had atmospher of encouragment.”
Fr. Hastings said those at the weekend mass understood the realities the school faced. “It’s hard and sad, but people realize things are not what they have been. We will look into our hearts to support Catholic education but in a different manner.”
“For the rest of the school year we will remain committed to what we are about and make the rest of the year as proper and fitting as it ota to be. Hope to have occasions to come together as a community to celebrate our history and what St. Rose school has meant to the parish and wider community.”
“We will now begin some discernment on how to serve catholic education and to continue to help our young people.,” he added. “This is a time to processing and accepting what is and what is to come. We will continue to be a strong part of our community.
Meetings to discuss how to address the situation and make a recommendation to the bishop began at St. Rose parish and school in mid-September. The recommendation was made in mid-December and accepted by Bishop Sirba Feb. 12 after consultation with other school pastors, with diocesan staff, with the Diocesan Finance Council and with the Duluth Area Catholic School Board.
“This recommendation for closure was not easily given on a pastoral level,” Father Hastings said. “However, I believe that St. Rose Parish will remain committed to the work of Catholic education, especially through the encouragement of our families in enrolling their children in the other Catholic schools in our area and by our parish’s cooperation with and participation in the mission and activities of these other schools.”
The school now has 42 registered students in kindergarten through sixth grade, down from 80 in 2000. The school employs five teachers, a principal and several support staff. Officials said they hope to help the teachers find work at another Catholic school in the diocese.