Several articles have appeared in the local newspapers discussing the closure of Saint Anthony’s High School. Those articles expressed disbelief, annoyance, frustration, and disappointment with the Archdiocese for allowing Saint Anthony’s to close its doors permanently. Unfortunately, throughout the years, we have seen this happen all too often. Indeed, a significant part of Jersey City’s history, its legacy, ceases to exist when a school closes its doors for the last time.
We remember a time when Catholic schools provided a viable alternative to public education. In Downtown, alone, there were over a dozen Catholic schools; and, many times, those schools were built around a specific immigrant culture and heritage. For example, Holy Rosary was “very strongly Italian;” directly across the street, Saint Anthony’s Grammar School, had a distinct, predominant Polish heritage. Some would decry “gentrification” as the cause for Saint Anthony’s demise. Others would argue that the Church should show a bit of “charity” towards parishes and schools with declining attendance. Let’s not deceive ourselves. The Church makes business decisions. The Church ranks among one of the oldest organizations and enterprises in the world. Granted, the Church is “not for profit.” However, “not for profit” does not equate to “operate at a deficit.”
Without any doubt whatsoever, the Felician Sisters and Coach Hurley worked wonders at Saint Anthony’s High School. They reached out to the youth of the inner-city and gave them an opportunity, they gave them hope, for a better life and a brighter future through education and sportsmanship.
Yet, regardless of the countless “success stories” and the number of basketball championships Saint Anthony’s had won over the years, it boils down to business and the “bottom line.” And, sadly, that has always been the case.
Saint Michael’s Grammar School closed in the late 1970’s because of declining enrollment. Saint Anthony’s Grammar School closed its doors in the latter part of the 1980’s. Schools, such as Holy Rosary, became part of a “consolidation.” In each of the preceding examples, the Archdiocese made a business decision. The same holds true for Saint Anthony’s High School.
That is, the Archdiocese made a business decision to no longer invest resources into Saint Anthony’s High School.
Albert J. Cupo
John Di Genio