Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen, which is slated to close this year. This week, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur announced they are in the process of acquiring the property for use by Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School. CC BY 2.0/ EraserGirl via Wikimedia
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LAWRENCE -- The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) and the Sisters of Presentation of Mary announced today that formal proceedings have begun for the SNDdeN sponsored Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School (NDCR) to purchase Presentation of Mary Academy's (PMA) school buildings in Methuen. The school section of the former Searles Estate consists of five buildings, approximately 5+ acres of a 24+ acre property which the Sisters are selling. Having provided a Catholic education for families in and around Methuen for 60 years, both religious orders fell into immediate agreement that Notre Dame Cristo Rey High, who has been looking to expand space and reach for its own high school community, would be the perfect fit to purchase the school buildings and carry on the mission of Catholic education at this location.
"The Sisters of Presentation of Mary could not be happier to welcome the Sisters of Notre Dame and their incredible school community onto our campus," said Sister Helene Cote, Provincial of the Sisters of Presentation of Mary. "As one can imagine, it has been and is a very difficult time for us as we prepare to close our own school after so many years. To allow the greater mission of Catholic education and identity to the youth in this area through Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School's college and career readiness curriculum is exactly what we would want in this transition."
As part of Notre Dame Cristo Rey's current five-year strategic plan, the SNDdeN Corporate Members, the board of directors, and the Notre Dame Cristo Rey school leadership team spent the last few years researching the possibility of a new location for its entire school community. Limited in space, increased financial concerns at its current location and the inability to address the demands of enrollment, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur engaged in conversation with the Sisters of Presentation of Mary when news broke about them closing the school.
"While our hearts are heavy with the knowledge that Presentation of Mary Academy will be closing at the end of this school year, God has provided an opportunity for our school communities to turn a difficult situation into one of promise and hope," said Sister Maryalyce Gilfeather, president of Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School.
"So many of our friends in the community, our families, our students and even our alumni reached out to me about the possibility of purchasing PMA, knowing of its availability and size. To say we have the support of so many individuals on this move is an understatement," Sister Maryalyce added.
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who have served the community of Lawrence for over 160 years, are no strangers to the Methuen community as they also established and staffed St. Monica School in 1958. The Sisters have been a constant and dedicated presence by educating local children and their families and spreading Catholic identity to both communities. Through Notre Dame Cristo Rey's Corporate Work Study Program, students from Notre Dame Cristo Rey work in several Lawrence organizations as well as St. Monica's School and other Methuen organizations and businesses. The ability to continue serving both communities with more physical space to grow means more opportunities for more students and their families.
With a signed purchase and sales agreement between the two religious congregations, proceedings now begin for the 120-day inspection process of the five school buildings to be purchased.
When asked how likely it will be for Notre Dame Cristo Rey to begin the 2020-2021 school year at the new location, Sister Maryalyce replied, "Given the support of our Good God, the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, our SNDdeN Corporate Members, board of directors, donors, faculty, staff, students and families, and all the prayers we have offered during this time, I am confident that we will be able to welcome our students to their new home. I cannot thank the Sisters of Presentation of Mary enough for working with us to provide this opportunity of growth for our NDCR mission. And I am so very grateful to have the support of both Mayor Dan Rivera of Lawrence and Mayor Neil Perry of Methuen as we move forward -- we are blessed!"