Dear Brothers and Sisters:
I hope this email finds you and your families well and remaining healthy. In my time as your pastor I have had the great joy of celebrating many momentous occasions with you. Unfortunately, I am writing to you to share news that no parish wants to hear, especially one filled with so many dedicated and generous parishioners.
After consultation with the IC School Commission and the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese of Boston, we have made the painful decision to close the Immaculate Conception School at the end of this academic year. Please be assured that this was not a rash decision or a hasty reaction to our current state of emergency.
As most of you are aware, our school has been struggling with enrollment for several years. Like many other Catholic schools, our enrollment has declined significantly, decreasing from 196 students in 2015-16 school year to 132 students in 2018-19, a 32% decline. We were well aware of this challenge last year when we made the decision to keep the school open, and we knew that this trend would not be easy to reverse. In light of the uphill climb we faced, we developed a strategic plan that was reviewed with and approved by the Archdiocese. This plan was designed to make the school financially sustainable within three years by reaching a target enrollment level of 190 students.
Many of you and your fellow parishioners have worked tirelessly to help us meet our goals. Working with the ICS Parents Association, the new school administration also did everything they could to increase enrollment, in addition to making significant improvements at the school. Collectively, these efforts did lead to over 40 new students becoming interested in our school in a relatively short period of time and these prospects were very promising.
However, for our plan to work both the Immaculate Conception Parish and the Archdiocese (through benefactors) would be responsible to cover the financial losses until enrollment reached the target levels. Unfortunately, our search to secure new benefactors, both through our efforts and those of the Catholic Schools Office, were not successful.
Additionally, the implications of the current pandemic crisis have made it impossible to bridge the financial gap while we reached our desired enrollment. Neither the Parish nor the Archdiocese no longer have the funds to continue supporting the school as they have done to date.
I make this announcement with immense sadness. I know that our current students, faculty, alumni, and their families will also share in this sadness. The closing of our school is a loss not only to the Immaculate Conception School community, but to our Parish as a whole and to the City of Marlborough. But, we take comfort in knowing that the Immaculate Conception School has created a beautiful, lasting legacy of which we can all be very proud.
There are many, many people to thank for all of their hard work and dedication to the children of Immaculate Conception School – our teachers and staff, members of the School Commission, the Immaculate Conception School Parents Association, other parents, guardians, and family members, numerous benefactors, former priests and sisters, pastoral and lay staff our parishioners and countless others who have preceded us over the school’s 100-year history.
Our current plan is to continue distance learning through the end of the academic year. Over the next couple of months, we will work with our families and students to help them find a suitable school for the next academic year, and we will support our teachers and school staff as they seek new employment opportunities in the Archdiocese or elsewhere.
Please be assured of my prayers for you and your families and I invite you to pray also for our Immaculate Conception Parish as we move forward. May the peace and blessings of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and your families.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Steven Clemence, Pastor
Father Steven Clemence