DULUTH - Bishop Paul D. Sirba of the Diocese of Duluth has accepted the recommendation of officials at St. Rose School in Proctor that the school close following the 2012-13 school year, officials announced Monday. "I know it is with sadness that you and your parishioners have come to this decision," the bishop wrote in his letter to the school's pastor, Father Joel Hastings. "I share your grief and hold you all in my prayers. The loss of a Catholic school is a loss felt by the entire Catholic community and is a matter for sorrow, but also hope — for we believe in the Risen Lord!"
He offered his support and presence and noted that the parish has "sacrificially supported" St. Rose School since 1924. "Your parish boards and councils, the excellent school staff and volunteers and all the parishioners can hold their heads high and know that for almost 90 years they have provided an opportunity to area families to receive a Catholic education." He encouraged school families to consider sending their children to another area Catholic school.
Father Hastings said financial realities and declining membership in the parish along with declining enrollment at the school itself were part of long-term trends that had left no good options to keep the school open.
Meetings to discuss how to address the situation and make a recommendation to the bishop began at St. Rose parish and school in mid-September.
The recommendation was made in mid-December and accepted by Bishop Sirba Feb. 12 after consultation with other school pastors, with diocesan staff, with the Diocesan Finance Council and with the Duluth Area Catholic School Board.
"This recommendation for closure was not easily given on a pastoral level," Father Hastings said. "However, I believe that St. Rose Parish will remain committed to the work of Catholic education, especially through the encouragement of our families in enrolling their children in the other Catholic schools in our area and by our parish's cooperation with and participation in the mission and activities of these other schools."
The school now has 42 registered students in kindergarten through sixth grade, down from 80 in 2000.
The school employs five teachers, a principal and several support staff.
Officials said they hope to help the teachers find work at another Catholic school in the diocese.
The decision was announced to the parish at Masses on Saturday and Sunday.