The Archdiocese of St. Louis has announced the permanent closure of three Catholic elementary schools, due in part to results of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most Holy Trinity Catholic School and Academy in the city of St. Louis; Christ, Light of the Nations School in north St. Louis County; and St. Joseph School in the suburb of Manchester will close at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
The decision was made after conducting an analysis of the financial feasibility of the three schools following the impact of the COVID-19 health pandemic.
The archdiocese noted that while the situation at each school is unique, all three have received financial support from the archdiocese and its parishes, which have been affected by the suspension of public Mass and the loss of offertory and other contributions due to the pandemic.
A statement from the archdiocese noted that Catholic elementary schools represent much more than school buildings; “each is a community of families and organizational partners who are fully invested in the impact of a Catholic education.”
The three schools have already changed the educational trajectory of thousands of students and alumni.
The archdiocese added that it and its community partners are fully committed to helping all affected families and students as they continue their educational journeys.
Parish leaders of the affected schools, in partnership with archdiocesan leadership, have been contacting families, staff and faculties with specifics regarding the support they will receive in making transitions to other faith-based schools within the archdiocese.
The archdiocese said it keeps all who are impacted by these difficult circumstances in prayer, and will continue to do everything possible to answer questions, address concerns and provide support for those who need it.
The pastors and school administrators likewise asked prayers for their students, teachers, staff and families.
“A sharp reminder to continue financially supporting your parish church and school, even though you aren’t physically throwing an envelope in a basket on Sunday,” a member of a parish in the Jefferson City diocese posted on social media in response to the news.
Father Thomas Pastorius, pastor of St. Joseph parish in Manchester, noted that the parish had been working toward returning its school to viability.
“Then, the coronavirus hit our parish hard, not only spiritually but also financially,” he wrote to parishioners.
Sunday collections fell by about 35 percent while Masses were not being celebrated publicly, he stated.
At the same time, the parish also stopped receiving any income from its Early Childhood Learning Center.
The school’s alumni include two priests who served the Jefferson City diocese.
Father Alphonse V. Nicolas, ordained in 1904, was the longest-serving pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians parish in Frankenstein and oversaw the construction of its current church building in 1923. He later served as pastor in St. Thomas.
Father Norman J. Ahrens, a priest of this diocese, ordained in 1955, ministered in Jefferson City, Russellville, Glasgow, Freeburg, Montgomery City, Martinsburg and Wellsville.
In the 1960s, he served as diocesan youth director and master of ceremonies, and from 1963-69 as procurator for the diocese’s missions in Peru.
The staff of the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the St. Louis archdiocese, contributed information to this article.