LINCOLN (SNR) - Students walked out of the doors for the last time at Sacred Heart School in Lincoln May 23.
The Diocese of Lincoln announced in February that operations at the school would be consolidated into the area’s surrounding Catholic schools at the end of the academic year. Over the last 10 years, the Diocese had provided direct subsidies to Sacred Heart School totaling more than $2 million, from donations and campaigns. Sacred Heart School worked diligently with the diocese in that time, attempting to create a sustainable financial future, as the current level of diocesan subsidy was unsustainable.
The announcement followed the December 2018 decision to consolidate operations at St. Mary School in Lincoln.
Sacred Heart School impacted thousands of lives since its opening, and faithfully lived the mission to assist parents in forming children as disciples of Jesus Christ. The school helped form teachers, staff members, and parents in addition to thousands of children.
In a final newsletter to parents, principal Laura Knaus shared from the Book of Revelation, “Behold, I make all things new.”
“To allow God to ‘make all things new,’” she said, “there has to be a death of some sort. On the journey of daily conversion, each disciple of Jesus experiences little deaths. Each person needs to die to a former way of life in order to pursue the life of holiness that the Lord wills.
“These deaths are painful and difficult,” she continued, “but ultimately, these trials are what lead faithful followers to glorify God. God can take suffering, trials, and weaknesses to transform people’s hearts and create something beautiful.
As painful and difficult as the ‘death’ of Sacred Heart School is, she explained, “God can and will make something beautiful from it.”
She said glimmers of the transformation were already evident in the fact that nearly 90% of Sacred Heart students will continue their education and formation in different Catholic schools in Lincoln, and that every teacher and staff member who wanted to continue employment within the Diocese of Lincoln had been offered a job.
Knaus said the staff of Sacred Heart wanted to use the challenging experience of loss as an opportunity for formation in helping students process change and transition.
They wanted to teach them “how to say goodbye well,” she explained, understanding that many of the children would soon be separated from classmates they’ve known for years. The staff also wanted to honor the history and impact of Sacred Heart and celebrate what makes the community so special.
As the school prepared for the end of the school year, they took many opportunities to play and pray together, celebrating this precious community. Highlights included activities in ‘Communio’ (small groups of students of different grades that meet throughout the year), homeroom class activities, and a Eucharistic procession from Sacred Heart to the nearby Hartley Park, effectively taking Jesus into the streets and sharing Him with the neighborhood.
In a recent visit to Sacred Heart School, Msgr. John Perkinton, who has served as superintendent of the diocese’s 32 schools for more than 25 years, addressed the closing of operations at Sacred Heart with the children.
He asked the students what happens when blue dye is added to a bowl of clear water.
“All the water turns blue!!” they eagerly replied.
Msgr. Perkinton said that each Sacred Heart student is the blue dye – they can take the formation they received at Sacred Heart and share it with the people at their new schools, spreading faith, brightness, positivity, and joy to their new communities.
“The imagery was simple, beautiful, and touching,” Knaus said. “That is exactly what each member of the Sacred Heart Catholic School community is called to do – to share the joy and love they have received with new people and new communities. That is evangelization – sharing the Gospel message of Jesus’ love and mercy with everyone we meet.
Knaus offered the school community’s prayers of thanksgiving for all those who supported Sacred Heart Catholic School during the past 90 years: the many benefactors, alumni, and supporters who provided the opportunity for Sacred Heart Catholic School to faithfully live the mission of the Catholic Church for generations.
“The work done in this special place will continue to bear fruit for decades,” she said, “and the Lord will certainly continue to use it to ‘make all things new.’”