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Fourteen Catholic Schools to Close

Buffalo, NY – The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo Saturday announced that 14 local Catholic elementary schools will close at the end of the 2006-07 school year.

The schools to close include Infant of Prague, St. Josaphat, Kolbe Catholic Regional, Resurrection, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Cheektowaga; St. Agnes, St. Bernard, and St. Rose of Lima in Buffalo; Most Precious Blood in Angola; Genesee-Wyoming Catholic Central in Attica; St. Barnabas in Depew; St. Hyacinth School in Dunkirk; Blessed Sacrament in Kenmore; and St. Edmund in Tonawanda.

In a written statement, Diocesan officials said the schools suffer from one, or a combination, of the following factors: declining enrollment, fewer school-aged children living in the community, significant parish or school debt, and an inordinate amount of the weekly offertory being used to help keep the school open.

"This restructuring is necessary to respond to changing demographics, population shifts and economic realities in Western New York, and a dramatic decline in the number of available clergy and vowed men and women religious who serve our diocese," said Most Rev. Edward U. Kmiec, Bishop of Buffalo. "Certainly, this decision leaves area Catholics with mixed emotions, but I want to stress that these decisions were made to strengthen and support the remaining Catholic schools here in Western New York."

The Department of Catholic Education has established a transition program that will assist students and their families in enrolling in nearby Catholic schools. During the week of January 29 - February 4, a series of open houses for students affected by the closings will be held at Catholic schools that can accommodate the displaced children.

"We will make every effort to ensure that a desk is available at a neighboring Catholic elementary school for our affected students," said Denise McKenzie, secretary of Catholic education, Diocese of Buffalo.

The school closings are part of a diocesan restructuring called Journey in Faith and Grace. Details on parish closings, consolidations and mergers will be announced over the course of the next year.