Historic Catholic school announces closure

Catholic school closing

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - There will be one less Catholic school in the lake area next year. Sacred Heart/Saint Katharine Drexel Catholic School will not reopen its doors next year.

Monsignor Ronald Groth announced the school closure in all three of his masses this morning at Sacred

The school has been a part of the lake area for over one hundred years.

"The decision has been coming for several years," said Monsignor Groth.

It opened its doors in 1908 after a group of African American Catholics requested "a good, catholic education" for their children. But now the school is closing due to lack of funding and enrollment. Bishop Glenn John Provost sent Monsignor Groth to the school two years ago in hopes of keeping the doors open.

"That is what his dream and his hope were," said Monsignor Groth. "And I told him, I said I'm not a miracle worker, but we've worked hard these two years."

Last year enrollment dropped to 90 students, so they held a fundraiser and brought in over one hundred thousand dollars.

"We can't do that every year," said Monsignor Groth. "And so that's the problem. This past year we had about 17 fewer students than the year before so you can't operate a school with 75 students."

If families choose to continue with Catholic education, students currently enrolled in Saint Katharine Drexel Catholic School will be channeled into other catholic schools in the lake area. But what about the faculty and staff?

"The reason we wanted to make this decision a little earlier is out of consideration for them," said Monsignor Groth.  "Many of them will have to be looking for new teaching positions or some other kind of work and we wanted to give them time to do that."

Monsignor Groth says they may also be given an option to continue teaching in Catholic schools.

Despite the failed attempt to keep the historic school open, he wishes the best for all of the students in the future.

"I hope they will have opportunities to do what they really want to do," said Monsignor Groth. "In other words, if their parents and themselves want to continue on with catholic education, I would that that's a dream that they can have fulfilled in their life."

Groth also added that letters will be sent to parents on Monday regarding the school closure in hopes of giving the parents plenty of time to make a decision on their child's future education.

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