Metro parish schools consolidate

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Last night, Father Stephen Adrian of St. Matthew’s Parish on St. Paul’s West Side met with parents to explain the new regional school his parish will join next fall. St. Matthew’s 168 students will join with students from St. Michael’s in West St. Paul.

“Schools tied to parishes, that model is not sustainable” Adrian told the crowd of roughly 90 parents assembled in the parish hall last night.

“St. Matthew’s is not closing, and not merging,” said Adrian. “It’s becoming a partner in a regional Catholic school.” Other partners include Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul, St. Michael’s in West St. Paul, St. John Vianney in South St. Paul and Holy Trinity in South St. Paul. St. John Vianney will house a second regional school.

“You truly are trailblazers in this effort to bring Catholic school communities together in a collaborative effort to make better use of all the resources God has granted us,” wrote Archbishop Nienstedt in a letter to parents, parishioners and alumni last week.

The school changes come a year after Nienstedt announced plans to consolidate some parishes in the 12-county Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Principal Doug Leiser said St. Matthew’s is part of the first regional consolidation of parish schools and others will follow.

School leaders assured parents that transportation will be provided, as well as financial aid.

Adrian received applause from parents when he said he would fight for the lunch program. Apparently, St. Matthew’s likes its lunches.

One mother asked about uniforms at the new school.

Lieser said that’s the number one question he’s been getting from students.

Joyce Osborne of West St. Paul is a 1977 graduate of St. Matthew’s and the mother of a 7th grader who will move to the regional school. She noted that although she lives nine blocks from St. Michael’s, she had chosen to send her children to St. Matthew’s because of its diversity. A majority of students at St. Matthews are students of color and the Osbornes are caucasian. “We needed that. That’s reality,” she said.

In an interesting twist, Osborne said her German family grew up attending St. Matthew’s because they weren’t welcome among the Irish at St. Michael’s. Generations later, the communities are joining together in their regional school.

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