St. Louis School in Englewood to close

Archbishop Aquila: 'We can't forget the rich history of this school'

Karna Lozoya

At Masses this weekend Father Robert Reycraft, pastor of St. Louis Catholic Parish in Englewood, will announce the decision to close St. Louis School at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

Father Reycraft made the decision together with the Catholic Schools Office and Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila.

In a letter written to the parish and school communities, Archbishop Samuel Aquila stated that the decision was a difficult one, but that “after reviewing enrollment and demographic trends, parishes and schools that are nearby, your parish and school finances and other data to assess the viability of the school, I fully believe that this is the best decision for the parish.”

“It is with sadness that this will be the last school year for St. Louis School,” Father Reycraft stated. “I thank the parents who dedicated so much of themselves to our school. I thank Mrs. Hagen, Principal, who worked tirelessly over decades in devotion to the school. I thank the parishioners of St. Louis Parish who supported school activities and all of our many benefactors including the Archdiocese of Denver. I thank all of the teachers and support staff throughout the years.”

The pastor pointed to low enrollment mixed with rising costs as factors that “have brought us to a point where we cannot meet our obligations to continue.”

“St. Louis School has contributed much to the lives of students and their families since 1929,” he continued. “We are all grateful for that.”

St. Louis Catholic School has been impacted by several factors, not unlike hundreds of schools across the country that have had to close. The primary factors affecting the school’s lack of viability are changing demographics, which has led to shortfalls in enrollment and the resources necessary for sustainability.

“St. Louis Catholic School is a hidden gem,” said Principal Pattie Hagen, “but we have not been able to recruit significant enrollment. The small class sizes are a double edged sword in that the scholars receive differentiated instruction however financial it is not a viable reality to sustain.”

The last 15 years have been a time of declining enrollment for St. Louis. Enrollment has dropped to its lowest count with less than 80 students. Additionally, per-student costs have risen to over $11,000, requiring St. Louis Parish to substantially subsidize school operations, which is an unsustainable situation for the parish.

Despite every effort to build enrollment, including the diligent work of the School Advisory Council, make tuition affordable, and raise funds through the support of several generous donors, the recurring and on-going struggle to make the school viable has taken its toll.

“Father Reycraft, the parish, parents and our benefactors have donated much to help us continue our educational  mission but we can no longer ask for such a sacrifice from these parties,” said Hagen.

“St. Louis Catholic School has changed the lives of countless people in south central Denver since its founding in 1929, thanks in no small part to the sacrifice and hard work of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, as well as the laity that have staffed the school since 1973,” wrote Archbishop Aquila. “We can’t forget the rich history of this school, and the thousands of children who have passed through its doors.”

To read the letter Archbishop Aquila sent to St. Louis Parish, click here: http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Archbishop-Letter-St.-Louis-School.pdf

To read the FAQs sheet on St. Louis School, click here: http://archden.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/FAQs-St.-Louis-School.pdf

COMING UP: Swole.Catholic helps people strengthen body and soul

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St. Augustine once said, “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

Humans are both body and soul and both must be strengthened. This is the reason for the existence of Swole.Catholic, a group of people who dedicate themselves to nurturing their soul while strengthening their body, and through their ministry, motivate others to do the same.

According to Paul McDonald, founder of Swole.Catholic, they focus on encouraging faithful fitness. “We must take care of our temple of the Holy Spirit, because our bodies are one of God’s greatest gifts to us,” he said.

McDonald solidified the idea of faith and fitness when he was a sophomore in college. While “going through a huge moment in my life, at the same time I was really learning about the gym and learning ethical statements on my own. Both things clicked together,” he told the Denver Catholic. As a young guy, he started bible studies, and in those studies, he always had an analogy back to the gym.

He decided to make shirts for him and the guys in the bible study during his senior year. The shirts ended up becoming good conversation starters, and he decided he needed to do something with it — evangelize and motivate others to take care of their body and soul.

Thus Swole.Catholic was born. “Swole” is a slang term for bulking one’s muscles up from going to the gym, and of course, the Catholic part is self-explanatory — not only because of the Church but also for our faith and how it defines us in all we do. Swole.Catholic launched officially in Jan 2017.

The ministry consists of a website which provides resources to helps people with Catholic gyms, Catholic workouts, Catholic trainers, podcasts as well as workout wear.

The workout wear works as an evangelization tool. The word “Catholic” is printed on the front of the shirts and a bible verse is placed on the back.

“This raises questions or interest in others. It also works as a reminder of the purpose of the workout,” McDonald said. He added, “Most of the gyms we are going to have mirrors and all that, making you focus into yourself.” But the real purpose of the workout, as the members of Swole.Catholic say, is to strengthen your body and soul to live a healthy life.

Swole.Catholic also has rosary bands, a simple decade wrist band that people can wear while they workout and be flipped off at any time to pray a quick decade.

“Because everyone’s faith journey is different and everyone’s fitness journey is different, what we are trying to do is connect people with people [for them] to be able to have the correct support with their faith and fitness,” McDonald said.

That is why Swole.Catholic now has outposts around the country, with passionate Catholic members who love to help and inspire others in the fitness world while pursuing God in everything they do.

“Each one has its own flavor,” McDonald said. “In Florida we have a rosary run group where a bunch of girls meet up and pray rosary while they go for a run.” Among the outposts, there is also a group of guys in North Dakota who do a bible study and lift together. Similar to these two groups, members from other states have formed their own Catholic fitness groups and are now part of Swole.Catholic, including in Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and Wyoming and more.

“We encourage faithful fitness,” McDonald concluded. “We think your fitness fits in your faith as much as faith fits in your fitness. We are body and soul and we need to be building both.”

To join a group or a workout, visit swolecatholic.com or find them on Facebook.