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: Relativism: An obstacle to the pursuit of truth

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When I was a kid, my favorite television show was The Partridge Family. Mostly because I was completely enamored of the late David Cassidy, whom I was convinced I would marry some day. But also because the show featured just the kind of mildly corny humor a seven year old is inclined to enjoy.

I remember one joke in particular. Keith (David Cassidy) is trying to give big brotherly advice to Danny (Danny Bonaduce). He says “If you just believe, you can be anything you want to be.”

Danny responds, “Great! I want to be a black woman.” Laugh track ensues. Because everybody knows that a pale white, red-headed, freckle-faced kid cannot grow up to be a black woman.

I was thinking about that scene as I was listening to Bishop Robert Barron Feb. 6, giving a riveting talk on relativism to a packed house here in Denver. As he spoke about the philosophical underpinnings of relativistic thinking, I realized that joke couldn’t be told today. Because, as a society, we don’t seem to agree that race, gender, or just about anything else, are based in any kind of objective truth.

Bishop Barron spoke of a video you may have seen. A rather short male interviewer asks college students what they would think if he told them he identifies as a woman. Then an Asian woman. Then a 6’4” Asian woman. They hesitate at times, but all ultimately agree that if that is his “truth,” then he is indeed entitled to be a tall Asian woman.

That is the ultimate expression of relativism.

Relativism, boiled down, is essentially the belief that there is no “objective” truth that is true for all. Rather, we as individuals, each establish our own subjective “truths,” and we live “authentically” to the extent that we honor these individual “truths.”

The speed with which we have descended down this path is breathtaking. When I was in my 20’s (which was not long ago at all — right???), I used to debate abortion at Berkeley. Not exactly a friendly audience — I remember mentally noting exits, including windows, that I could utilize if things got out of hand. But they showed up, and they listened, because there was still some understanding in society that there was such a thing as truth, and hence an openness to listen to others to see if together we could arrive at that truth. Or, at the very least, that I could employ the truth as I see it to convince you that your understanding of the truth is flawed.

Not so today. Open discussion of controversial issues is almost nonexistent on most college campuses. Of course. If I have my truth and you have your truth, what would be the point? We are just supposed to respect each others’ truths and move on.

But the problem is that we all have to play together in the same sandbox. Somebody’s truth has to rule our social interaction. If we can’t come to an agreement about whose truth is truer, then the only option left is force. And so, instead of listening to what you have to say, I attempt to forcibly shut you down. I smash windows. I disrupt your talk. Or, alternatively, I call on the authority of the university to do that dirty work for me while I hide in a safe space with my crayons and puppy videos.

Pope Benedict XVI called relativism a “dictatorship.” And, ironically, it is. The philosophy that purports to allow everyone to believe as he wishes, actually allows no one to believe in anything but relativism. And because there need be no rhyme nor reason behind any individual belief, enforcement through persuasion becomes impossible. Hence, the inevitable clash of ideologies. And it will be the stronger, not the most persuasive, who will prevail.

Parents, please — teach your children that there is such a thing as truth. That yes, we may disagree with others about what that truth is. That we respect people — all people — regardless of their beliefs. (Another objective truth.) But beneath the disagreement, there is a truth. There is a God or there isn’t. Jesus Christ is divine or He isn’t. Sexual expression has an inherent meaning or it doesn’t. Gender is fixed or it isn’t.

[And parents, if you want help with this, get your hands on Chris Stefanik’s book Absolute Relativism, and check out his YouTube videos on the same subject.]

In any disagreement about objective truths, someone is right and someone is wrong. Or perhaps both are partially wrong and neither grasps the full truth. But the truth is there.

In the old days, our goal was to find it.