Got word this morning that my elementary school, Incarnation of Our Lord, is closing - set to merge with St. Helena's come next year.
While I was expecting this (low enrollment, poor, inner city demographic, etc), I simply was NOT prepared for the deluge of loss I felt upon hearing confirmation that my beloved Incarnation was getting the axe.
My mother teaches there. Has for going on 30 years. I was a sub there at random intervals. I got my first job there. I gained my first and best friend, Mary, there. I learned my faith there. So many memories... so much family... and to know it will be shuttering breaks my heart.
Last year, I was told my high school, Cardinal Dougherty, was closing as well. That news certainly didn't shock me, and I almost welcomed it considering how awful it had become in the years when even I attended. I saw the closing of Dougherty as a prudent move... a trimming of the hedges to solicit fresh, prosperous growth.
Incarnation's closing does not spell that for me. I feel that the Archdiocese spent too long ignoring the many, many issues it faced, and as a result, had to subscribe to a "Scorched Earth" policy to finally handle the crushing weight of debt. There's no way the Archdiocese could attempt fixing all the problems each of these schools had, so instead of attempting, they cut their losses, closed what they could, and are attempting to consolidate in the hopes of fixing fewer new problems than too many older ones.
I understand this. I really do. I even agree with it to a certain extent. I think the timing is off (seriously - how much teaching does anyone think will happen between now and June?). I think the underhanded pressure the Archdiocese is putting on the staff to sign away their lives is reprehensible. I also think... ugh. At this point, who cares what I think? Archbishop Chaput is here for a reason. He was brought in to fix this mess we've gotten ourselves into, and this is his plan to do it. I accept his plan and trust that, in the long run, we will benefit from it. I believe Chaput's heart is in the right place. I really, honestly do. This is just a terribly large pill for me to swallow.
My extended Incarnation family now faces a looming deadline of "Find a job or go hungry." The families will now have to scramble to find new schools. And what of our buildings? What of our parish? The school fed our parish community. Without it, how long before Incarnation Parish also withers away?
My heart breaks at the notion. Oh Lord... we are in the time of dry wood. Stay with us... protect us... shelter us. May you guide this wildfire. When the smoke clears and the embers die out, allow the regrowth to be quick and joyous.