On Friday teachers and students at Saint Monica Catholic School in Sunbury learned the school will close.
The announcement comes less than six weeks after Bishop Joseph McFadden visited the school.
Jennifer Cooper’s son goes to kindergarten at Saint Monica Catholic School in Sunbury.
“I have to say I was pretty devastated when I got the letter. I’m an alumni from here and he has a lot of friends and was doing really well,” said Cooper.
The school has been around for more than 60 years. Around 130 children go there. Father Donald Cramer said closing the school was not his choice. It was his necessary decision.
“We just don’t have the means to keep running this school,” said Father Cramer.
He added the school is one million dollars in debt, with bills piling up year after year. Bishop McFadden approved the decision to close the school. Less than six weeks ago, he paid a visit to Saint Monica. Newswatch 16 asked the bishop about school closings in the Diocese of Harrisburg.
“And when that happens it’s sad, especially for me. Nobody is more sad than I am, but we try to use our resources as fast as we can and try to make sure that we make proven use of the resources we have,” Bishop McFadden said in January.
St. Monica School is owned by St. Monica Church, not the Diocese of Harrisburg. With the school closing, what does that mean for the church? Father Cramer said it means the church will be able to stay open.
“We believe that if we are able to make this decision. As hard as it is, the next step is for St. Monica church is to get ourselves out of this debt,” said Father Cramer.
Kristin Hogan’s daughter, along with her nieces and nephews, go to Saint Monica Catholic School. Hogan said she was devastated when she found out the school is closing.
“The school closing is impossible to take. We are a tight knit community. We aren’t the richest, but this school is very important to us,” said Hogan.
Some parents said they are so upset they started a pledge and awareness campaign to try and keep the school open.
“We came up with an idea of going out and contacting alumni, different parishes in this area, the community asking everyone for pledges,” said Jeannette Gill of Northumberland.
She and other parents started the “Save St. Monica School Campaign.”
“We love this school, we love the teachers, it’s like a family. I’ve only been part of it for the last two years and I just can’t imagine. It’s almost like having someone die in your family,” said Gill.
Hogan agrees. She said she will do what she can to help save the school.
“My daughter is dumping out her piggy bank and trying to keep the school open so if she’s trying that hard I have to try harder,” said Hogan.
There are two other Catholic schools near Sunbury, Our Lady of Lourdes in Shamokin and Saint Joseph’s in Danville.