Lawrence, Methuen parochial schools merge to form new academy

LAWRENCE -- Echoing the trend of consolidating struggling Catholic schools that face declining enrollment and resulting financial pressures, the Archdiocese of Boston announced on Feb. 3 that St. Patrick School in Lawrence and Our Lady of Good Counsel School in Methuen will consolidate to form Lawrence Catholic Academy.

The academy will open at St. Patrick School in September 2010 and will serve children from preschool through grade 8.

In a letter to parents and guardians, the pastors of both parishes said, “We have concluded that we need to take a bold step to address the significant financial challenges facing Our Lady of Good Counsel School and the declining enrollments that all of Lawrence’s Catholic schools have experienced in recent years. Rather than standing by to witness the decline of Catholic education in Lawrence, we have reached a decision that we believe will launch an exciting new chapter for Catholic education in Lawrence and Methuen.”

The parishes are hosting an informational meeting for parents from both schools to detail plans for the academy and answer questions.

A new principal for Lawrence Catholic Academy will be hired in March 2010 and will be responsible for hiring faculty and staff.

Enrollment at both schools has been steadily declining over the last six years. At St Patrick’s, enrollment peaked in 2004 at 458 and has dropped each subsequent year. This year, enrollment at the school is 317. Enrollment at Our Lady of Good Counsel is at 135 this year, down from 206 in 2004.

This is the fourth announcement of a Catholic School consolidation or closure since the beginning of the year.

In January, the parishes of Quincy announced that Sacred Heart School, St. Ann School, and St. Mary School would consolidate in one building as Quincy Catholic Academy and St. Tarcisius Parish in Framingham announced that its school would not reopen in the fall.

Pope John Paul II Academy in Dorchester and Mattapan also announced last month that the school will eliminate one of its five campuses.