After announcing that Rosati-Kain High School and St. Mary’s High School will close at the conclusion of this school year, the archdiocese is working to assist families in finding the best fit to continue a vibrant Catholic education.
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis is committed to providing a strong Catholic presence in the city of St. Louis, and we believe our remaining schools will continue to serve this mission,” Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski said.
Archdiocesan leaders examined the eight archdiocesan high schools, taking into account factors including enrollment trends, the financial health of the schools and school building capacity and condition.
Todd Sweda, senior director of the Office of Education and Formation and superintendent for secondary education, stressed the need to be responsible stewards of resources as the archdiocese continues through the All Things New pastoral planning process.
“All Things New has charged us to look forward with faith and plan for adjustments to the ministry footprint,” Sweda said. “Planning recognizes that we will continue to have the schools necessary for all young people seeking a vibrant Catholic education.”
Enrollment has been declining at Rosati-Kain and St. Mary’s. Rosati-Kain enrollment dropped to 187 this year, down from 249 in 2021-22; the freshman class numbers in the 30s. St. Mary’s dipped to 222 students, down from 271 the previous year.
“We don’t have the same population in the city, let alone total in St. Louis, as we used to,” Sweda said. “We’re also dealing with population across the board — most Catholic high schools are not at capacity.”
In the past 10 years, the number of students enrolled in Catholic elementary schools and parish school of religion programs in the archdiocese has dropped by nearly 6,000. Catholic high school enrollment has decreased by around 2,400 students in that time.
For several years, St. Mary’s has required increasing financial assistance from the archdiocese to meet its operating costs. Rosati-Kain also receives archdiocesan assistance to operate.
Addressing more immediate needs as well as long-term planning has been part of the All Things New mission from the start, said Father Chris Martin, vicar for strategic planning. “The current high school situation is a result of long-term trends, and out of justice to our families and teachers, we need to address it in a more immediate time frame as the rest of the process continues to unfold,” he said.
Another factor in the decision was Rosati-Kain and St. Mary’s proximity to the other archdiocesan high schools in the city, Bishop DuBourg High School and Cardinal Ritter College Prep; both are coed schools.
Rosati-Kain was founded in 1911 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet. It was the first St. Louis high school to integrate in the late 1940s. St. Mary’s opened in 1931 under the name Southside Catholic High School and the direction of the Christian Brothers; Marianists took over the school two years later.
“They both have rich histories,” Sweda said. “Over the years, they’ve both formed young men and women in wonderful ways in the faith.”
“We’re hoping that we can find ways throughout the year, but particularly at the end of the year, to celebrate that legacy,” he said. “The issues that have brought us to this day don’t negate the wonderful work that has been done over the years.”
Families at Rosati-Kain and St. Mary’s were notified of the decision this week.
The timing allows current and prospective students at the schools time to participate in fall admissions events including high school nights and open houses, Sweda said. Guidance counselors at Rosati-Kain and St. Mary’s will also help students connect with schools that best fit their educational needs.
Families will be able to apply for financial aid for the following year alongside other current and incoming students. Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation staff will work with families currently receiving TTEF scholarships to address each child’s specific award as families begin to select new schools. Students who enroll at a Catholic school next year will receive $500 to help cover miscellaneous costs related to transferring schools, including fees, Sweda said.
The timing also affords affected administrators, faculty and staff time to secure employment for the following school year before the current year ends. The archdiocese will meet individually with employees over the next several weeks to offer placement assistance.
In addition to Rosati-Kain and St. Mary’s, the archdiocese operates Bishop DuBourg High School and Cardinal Ritter College Prep in St. Louis; St. Dominic High School and Duchesne High School in St. Charles County; St. Francis Borgia High School in Washington; and St. Pius X High School in Festus.
In mid-October, the archdiocese will share information on enrollment trends and financial statistics for parish elementary schools. A survey will be shared with archdiocesan elementary school parents and faculty to collect feedback and identify preferences on issues including tuition thresholds, classroom ratios, teacher compensation and Catholic identity.
The goal is then to make decisions about parish schools in early 2023, prior to student re-enrollment and faculty contract renewals for the 2023-24 school year, Father Martin said.
Open House and High Schools Nights
Catholic high schools around the archdiocese will host open house events in late October and early November. For a full list of open houses, visit www.archstl.org/catholic-education-and-formation/high-school/high-school-open-houses.
There are two upcoming High School Nights, which include time for families to visit tables of all school present and the chance to hear three different 15-minute presentations from specific schools. Families with students in grades 5-8 are invited to attend, no prior registration necessary.
6-8 p.m. Oct. 3 at St. Louis University High School
6-8 p.m. Oct. 12 at St. John Vianney High School