Dear Friends in Christ,

The past month has been a challenging month, as we were concluding Lent and preparing for Holy Week, Bishop Barres announced that Bishop McGann-Mercy High School would be closing at the end of the current academic year and that the Mercy Regional School and St. Isidore’s Parish School would be joining together to create the St. John Paul II Regional School.  This announcement was and still is painful for all involved as well as many of the faithful who perhaps have no close connection to the schools involved.  For some it is feeling of loss for the East End, and some may put it as loss of Catholic Identity on the East End.  Clearly it is now more difficult for East Enders to send their children to Catholic School, yet not impossible as the Diocese continues to work out plans to help children, parents and families who are impacted by this decision and those who want to send their children in the future to Catholic Schools.  There has been a lot of anger and sadness directed towards Bishop Barres, pastors, priests and parishes over this decision.

Amid this difficult challenge is a greater challenge, one that calls us to be witnesses out in the world, of Christ’s love, mercy and kindness.  Challenges are not uncommon for us on the East End, so now we have a chance to not be divided but to continue forward as a community of Faith.  There is now a stronger sense of urgency in bearing witness to our faith within our Families and to our community at large.  The decision will not be reversed, and many have or threaten to withhold funds and other things from the Diocese and parishes.  That only serves to hurt people further, as the parishes serve all Catholics, and even non-Catholics who are in need.  We are in need of stronger religious education especially in this time, and a stronger witness of the Catholic Family.  We need to support each other in this witness and work of Evangelization.  We lost a High School and reduced a school family, but we need to rally as a parish family to make sure we don’t lose any more as a Parish Family, a Catholic Presence on the East End.

I ask you to join in me in praying for our families who have been impacted by these decisions; to pray for our Bishop, for our priests, for our Parish and all Catholics on the East End.  I ask you to join with me in strengthening our parish and our Catholic presence on the East End.  It will not be easy, and especially in this time of testing and pain, but we are an Easter People who believe through the trials, and tribulations, the Cross leads us to the Resurrection.  Thank you for your understanding and your prayers.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Michael J. Bartholomew