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Pastors study plans with input from parishioners, families and educators

Representing 10 parishes, the Washington Area Steering Committee has recommended a regional Catholic school system among the six Catholic elementary schools in the Washington city area.

According to committee co-chairs Barbara Delleart of St. Gertrude Parish in Krakow and Bob Dobsch from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Washington, a regional school system “would provide quality faith-based Catholic education in a financially responsible, affordable, and sustainable manner for the parishes and families in the Washington and Southern Warren County area.”

As to what form that might take remains uncertain. The committee’s recommendation to parish pastors is only the first step; since receiving the recommendation in mid-July, the pastors have been gathering information and exploring options for a regional approach with the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education and Formation. In the coming months, they’ll meet with parishioners, parents and educators for feedback and also update the committee on their progress. They’ll make a final decision on the recommendation after reviewing the input from all of the stakeholders about possible programs, staffing, finance and facilities.

Father Gene Robertson, pastor of St. Vincent DePaul Parish in Dutzow and the Dean of the Washington Deanery, has emphasized that no decision has been made yet and that the recommendation won’t affect the 2018-19 school year, which will proceed without change. He also stated a regional system might have a positive impact on the parishes.

“While this recommendation is primarily focused on our elementary schools, it is the pastors hope that it will have positive implications for the evangelization and faith formation needs of all within our parish communities,” he stated.

In meetings since February, the steering committee studied “past and present educational realities” of the parishes’ six elementary schools. The committee was charged with developing “a recommendation as to how the parishes might continue to provide for the evangelization and formational needs of families.”

The archdiocese currently administers two regional schools, what it calls “partnership model” schools. Two years ago, St. Joan of Arc and Our Lady of Sorrows schools teamed up to form South City Catholic Academy and offer K-through-8 education at the St. Joan of Arc site. This year, All Saints Academy opened as a combination of former parish schools at St. Ferdinand, St. Norbert and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in Florissant, with all sites hosting K-8 education in the 2018-19 school year.

In addition, five parishes comprise Holy Cross Academy: Annunciation in Webster Groves; St. Michael the Archangel in Shrewsbury, Our Lady of Providence in Crestwood, Seven Holy Founders in Affton and St. John Paul II in Affton. St. Michael, Our Lady of Providence and St. John Paul II (at the former St. Dominic Savio campus) have K-5, while Annunciation serves as the middle school for grades 6-8.

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