CLAREMONT — Parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church were informed Sunday that John Paul II Academy has closed.
A communication inserted in the Sunday Bulletin at the church contained information from the Very Rev. Shawn Therrien, Pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church, officially announcing the closing of John Paul II Academy.
“Despite the ingenuity and efforts of many, especially in prayer, we did not have the capital to continue, given the low number of students, at this time,” he wrote.
“It is still my hope that in time our parish will again have a Catholic School of which we will be proud,” he continued.
Low student enrollment at the school did not look to be encouraging, according to numbers provided by Thomas Bebbington, Director of the Office of Communications for the Diocese of Manchester, N.H.
The 2018-19 school year started with 11 students, dropping down to 10 at the end of the year in June. Only five students had registered for classes for the 2019-20 school year.
In the church bulletin of Aug. 18, it was announced that Roxanne Raeside Wilton, the headmaster of John Paul II Academy had completed her service at the school.
“We are most grateful for all her hard work in helping to get us started and running the first year. May God bless her as she moves forward to new endeavors,” that message stated.
“It was a valiant community effort, of which all can take credit. I want to thank all who assisted in this endeavor. As a pastor, I take pride in all of you. I also want to thank the Diocesan Schools Office and our bishop for their help and support, both spiritual and financial,” Father Therrien said.
“Hindsight is always 20/20 and I am sure there are things we could have done better, but no form of armchair quarterbacking is ever helpful. Therefore, we move forward continuing the good that we are doing,” he stated.
Looking to the future, Father Therrien said the school will be used for religious education formation, additional education opportunities, adult faith formation and as a meeting place.
“We always move forward keeping our eyes on the Lord and relying on the guidance of His Most Blessed Mother. From this great disappointment, she will bring us to even greater things.
“Again, to all who helped in any way, from the depths of my heart: Thank You.”
In a message to St. Mary parishioners dated July 15, Headmaster Wilton said making Catholic education accessible to everyone has always been a mission of the Church, but keeping it affordable in modern times has required support from many sources.
“As we move toward the 200th year anniversary of Catholic education in the Upper Valley, I invite you to consider helping to continue our work in two ways: by contributing to the ongoing restoration and updates to our school through this summer’s Capital Campaign Fund and/or by making the dream of education a reality to a student in need through a St. Mary Scholarship Fund donation.
“As you know, education today has changed in many ways. Your prayers and financial assistance can make a great difference by helping to provide needed facility and classroom resources as well as supporting a family who longs for the same type of education you may have enjoyed at our school” Wilton’s message continued.
“As an authentic Catholic school recognized by Bishop Peter Libasci, John Paul II Academy takes great pride in building upon the success that St. Mary School began 120 years ago,” Wilton wrote.
“I am pleased to welcome John Paul II Academy as a parochial Catholic school,” Bishop Libasci said in a statement released on Oct. 10, 2018.
An attempt to find out the number of students who attended John Paul II Academy in 2018-19 and how many had registered for 2019-20 was unsuccessful.