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Letter: Open Letter to the Parishioners of St. James, St. Kilian, St. Martin of Tours, and St. Pius X

In the mid 1920s, the Pastor of St. Kilian Church, Rev. Fr. Joseph Haldmaier O.S.B. knew that the growing parish needed a parochial school of its own, believing in what he referred to as the “Domestic Trinity” – home – school – church, three required elements for a parish to continue to thrive. Hence the foundation was laid for what would eventually become St. Kilian School and later in 1992, St. John Baptist De LaSalle.

Each parish (St. James, St. Martin of Tours, St. Kilian, and St. Pius X) has been such an integral contributor to the success of our regionalized school over the past 20 years, and while we may be four separate parishes, we have evolved into one school family where our children are thriving.  

In 2005, the U.S. Conference of Bishops identified a plan for developing strategies to keep Catholic elementary education accessible, affordable and available to Catholics of all income levels. The responsibility of our entire parish community is to carry this torch, providing Catholic elementary school education for future generations.

Here are the facts:

* On Dec. 6, 2011 the Diocese announced the closing of six schools including our parish school, St. John Baptist de LaSalle Regional School. For many, this is the second time facing a school closure.

* Closing LaSalle affects all parishioners. Closing of the school impacts the overall well-being of all parishes, 15 percent of weekly contributions will still be going to the Diocese supporting other parishes that have operating schools.

* Closing LaSalle adversely affects participation from current/future dedicated Catholic families who will likely change parishes, weakening attendance, contributions (both fiscal and spiritual), and church ministries; going forward, similar families will not choose to live in a community without a Catholic school.

Why we cannot give up:

* Pope John Paul II’s 1999 The Church in America states that Catholic schools play a vital role in the evangelizing mission of the Church.  

* Catholic high schools receive 60 percent of their enrollment from Catholic elementary schools. Systematic elimination of elementary-level schools will dramatically affect all Catholic high schools.

* Studies have established that vocations, lay Catholic educators, and ministries have the common thread of Catholic education in their background. Over twenty individuals educated at St. Kilian/LaSalle School have answered the call to religious life.

We have a plan:

* According to the Long Island Catholic, “To date [the Diocese has] not been convinced that the legitimate upset and pain has been translated into any proposal that would change our decisions” (1/18/2012).

* We have a proposal to privatize the school while retaining its Catholic identity.

* We have religious and academic advisors, including leading Long Island Catholic educators who have successfully done this in the past. They are convinced that we are absolutely on the right path, and we are ready to present our plan to the Diocese.

* Your parish needs your support. Visit us at www.save lasalleregional.org for more information.

While we may face different challenges than those who founded St. Kilian School in 1926, our goals remain the same. Please pray for our success and that our Diocese carefully considers our proposal. Most importantly, please pray for our children, that they may have the blessing of an education in their community, your community, with the values, vision and faith-based culture that only a Catholic organization can provide.

Thank you again for all of your support over the years for your parish and your school.

The LaSalle Venture Committee