Diocese of Lincoln Statement St. Mary School 12-07-18

Dec. 7, 2018

LINCOLN – Operations of St. Mary Catholic School in Lincoln will be consolidated at the end of the 2018-19 academic year, primarily with Blessed Sacrament and Sacred Heart schools.

The consolidation is limited only to the school and does not affect continued operations of St. Mary Parish.

Beginning immediately, the Diocesan Education Office will work with the faculty, staff, students and parents of St. Mary School. Pastor Father Douglas Dietrich and principal, Dr. Nina Beck, will visit with each family individually to ensure that each student will be received into the most appropriate school.

Students who attend St. Mary School but are members of other parishes will also, with their families, meet with their pastors regarding placement for the upcoming school year. A majority of students at St. Mary School attend Cristo Rey Parish, which serves Spanish-speaking parishioners, and Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, which both serve Vietnamese-speaking parishioners.

Msgr. John Perkinton, diocesan superintendent and Dr. Matthew Hecker, diocesan chief administrative officer, will meet with each of the faculty and staff members of St. Mary School to discuss possible future employment options. Every effort will be made to assist St. Mary’s faculty and staff to continue their career within the diocesan school system, should they desire to do so.

Bishop James Conley accepted the recommendation of St. Mary Parish to consolidate its school operations noting years of study, dating as early as 1995, conducted by multiple committees and task forces, involving a wide variety of priests, educators and paid consultants, in addition to lay faithful including professionals skilled in school finance and education..

“This decision was not made in haste,” Bishop Conley said. “Consolidation is a decision that can only be made with a heavy heart, and after completing a great deal of research.”

In 2013, the Diocese of Lincoln hired the consulting firm Meitler to conduct a study and propose a five-year strategic plan for the diocesan schools. Five diocesan schools were cited by Meitler’s 2014 study as operating in financial deficit.

“I extend my most sincere gratitude to all those who have contributed to this decision-making process in any way,” Bishop Conley said. “Over the years, many individuals have given unselfishly of their time and talents in assisting with this process.”  The bishop particularly acknowledged “the exceptional and devoted efforts of the pastors, principals, faculty, staff, families, parishioners and benefactors” of the five schools in need of additional financial support. 

“To the St. Mary School family,” Bishop Conley said, “I thank all of you for decades of witness to Jesus Christ and his Church. Administrators, teachers, staff, students, families, supporters – you have all made sacrifices to ensure the formation of Christian disciples who will serve Christ for generations to come.

“While this decision was difficult, it was made to ensure that St. Mary students continue to receive an affordable Catholic education, just in a different place,” he said. “I pray it will bring our school communities closer together, and that it will make all of us stronger and more faithful followers of Jesus Christ.”

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