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Mar 12, 2018 5:19 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School In Riverhead To Close In June

McGann-Mercy High School is closing.
Mar 13, 2018 4:09 PM

Ms. Hoffert, a Southampton resident who still keeps in touch with many of her former classmates, said the closure means she won’t be able to send her 6-year-old daughter to the same high school that shaped her into the woman she is today.

“I loved my school,” Ms. Hoffert said. “It was a wonderful, safe place where I met the best friends I have ever had.”

When McGann-Mercy High School closes at the end of the school year, students will have to choose to either travel to the next closest Catholic high school—St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, or St. Anthony High School in Melville—or transition into the public school system.

In addition to the high school closing, Catholic elementary schools in Riverhead and the North Fork also will be consolidated.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre is blaming the closing of the school, which has been operating since the early 1960s, on a decline in enrollment.

“There has been a 37 [percent] decline in combined enrollment at Our Lady of Mercy Regional, St. Isidore and McGann-Mercy since 2011, which shows no signs of turning around anytime soon,” according to a release from the diocese.

The release notes the steady decline in enrollment at the high school: There are 91 students enrolled in 12th grade at McGann-Mercy, 90 in 11th grade, 67 in 10th grade, 60 in ninth grade, and 55 in eighth grade. “These declining enrollment trends make the delivery of a quality educational experience difficult and have financial implications that directly impact the school,” the statement from the diocese added.

The school is also struggling financially: According to the diocese, the high school alone was subsidized $16.3 million from 2007 through the last school year, and is expected to require an additional $2.3 million in support this school year.

Students attending the high school will have the choice of being bused from McGann-Mercy in Riverhead to St. John the Baptist. Affected families will be compensated with tuition incentives and be provided a guidance counselor during the transition.

Sister Kathryn Schlueter, principal of Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School in Southampton, said 14 students at her school already enrolled as freshmen at McGann-Mercy for the fall. OLH, which ends at eighth grade, plans to work with the students to secure placement at other Catholic schools.

“This is a difficult time, but we will do all we can to help them,” Sister Schlueter said.

The next two closest Catholic schools to the East End are a bit of a hike from OLH: St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip is a 52-mile journey, while St. Anthony High School in Melville is a 61-mile trip.

The elimination of McGann-Mercy means that students seeking to continue studying at a Catholic high school may not have means of public transportation by school bus, as they did before.

School districts are required to transport all students in grades kindergarten through 12, including those attending nonpublic schools and charter schools, but there are mileage limits, according to the State Department of Education. School districts do not have to provide transportation to students who live less than three miles from a school, or to students who want to attend religious or charter schools more than 15 miles from their home district.

A school district could hold a referendum vote and ask taxpayers to extend the radius to accommodate a student or students who live in the district. The bill for the extending the bus transportation is footed by the district, although some of the cost is offset by state transportation aid, according to an official with the State Department of Education. The cost of the trip would depend on what bus company is used.

Brian Stark of Riverhead, who sits on an advisory board for McGann-Mercy, said he was disappointed to hear the news of the school’s closing. “It’s sad because the school served the East End of Long Island, and now we’re not going to have a Catholic school … for high school,” he said.

Mr. Stark, whose son graduated from McGann-Mercy in 2014, said that to him it’s unreasonable to expect students to travel so far, more than an hour in some cases, for a Catholic education. He estimates that at least 60 to 65 percent of the school’s population are students from the five East End towns. The rest, he said, are mostly from Brookhaven Town.

Most Reverend John O. Barres, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said in a statement that he did everything he could to keep the school open.

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The end of a era Proud MHS class of 79 alum
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Mar 12, 18 5:53 PM
3 members liked this comment
For anyone interested in showing support for Mercy High School and Catholic education on the East End, a group is marching in the Hampton Bays St. Patrick's Day Parade this Saturday March 24th. Meeting at the HB middle school at 10 am. Parade kicks off at 11. Thank You!!
By pd6144 (4), southampton on Mar 21, 18 8:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
The result of mismanagement.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Mar 12, 18 6:43 PM
Your sources for such a statement?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 12, 18 7:27 PM
6 years of involvement at the school. If you have some relevant experience I would love to hear it, not what you can look up on the internet.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Mar 12, 18 7:55 PM
What, in your personal experience could have affected this outcome and leaned it in the opposite direction?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 12, 18 8:45 PM
Sad, sad day....... Class of 89.
By Hillsnbells (43), Southampton on Mar 12, 18 7:21 PM
O my stars! Have that many people left the Faith?

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 12, 18 7:30 PM
Catholic schools have been declining in enrollment for years nationwide, not just here. It's a trend that has been going on for quite some time.

Be it monetary or secular reasons, it's par for the course.

Per the NCEA:

"U.S. Catholic school enrollment reached its peak during the early 1960s when there were more than 5.2 million students in almost thirteen thousand schools across the nation. The 1970s and 1980s saw a steep decline in both the number of schools and students. ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 12, 18 7:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Z, why is OLH thriving?
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Mar 12, 18 7:56 PM
Perhaps relative age of the students? Or sociological factors? Parental income/tuition affordability? Or, perhaps for OLH students, it's more the parents choice than their own?

Definitely need more data...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 12, 18 8:42 PM
You definitely need something....
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Mar 12, 18 8:48 PM
Yeah, I do. A world free of ignorance, superstition, and fear.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 12, 18 8:56 PM
One reason.....Sister Kathy
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Mar 12, 18 10:24 PM
One reason...Sister Kathy
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Mar 12, 18 10:25 PM
and she was a big reason why mercy closed. She sent her graduates elsewhere. For a long time now.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Mar 13, 18 1:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
By East End 2 (151), Southampton on Mar 14, 18 1:23 PM
She did not send her graduates elsewhere.....We the parents chose when to send our children without any pressure or input from Sister Kathy......
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Mar 16, 18 12:35 AM
1 member liked this comment
**** chose where to send......
By DJ9222 (85), southampton on Mar 16, 18 12:40 AM
One answer... Sr. Kathy.
By localgirl (17), southampton on Mar 22, 18 1:01 AM
Class of 73. So sad
By fish sticks (53), hampton bays on Mar 12, 18 7:41 PM
Catholic school costs made it unaffordable. Soon we will be stuck with the mediocre education provided by our govt where everyone gets a diploma
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 12, 18 7:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
I don't completely disagree Chief. Big part of the problem is a failure by the administration to attract students. They have long ignored problems that if addressed would have improved enrollment.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Mar 12, 18 7:59 PM
So sad. I find it hard to believe enrollment is declining. Has 73 students in my graduating class before they added the junior high in the late 90’s. That’s one of the great things about mercy was smaller class sizes and the teachers knew who you were. It was a family atmosphere. They pulled that feeling right out from underneath us today. A mass email to students and family this afternoon as a method for notifacton. Give me a break.
By pd6144 (4), southampton on Mar 12, 18 8:33 PM
Yeah pd, terrible way to notify. Lame excuses about problems that could have been addressed years ago. The kids will be fine though, perhaps even better off. I really feel sorry for next year's senior class, especially those who were due to receive honors.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Mar 12, 18 8:45 PM
Not a surprise given the reduction of Catholic grade schools due to declining enrollment. When I was in grade school at Most Holy Trinity there were there Catholic grade schools and now I believe there is just one.
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on Mar 12, 18 8:59 PM
Such a shame!! There's nothing better than a great Catholic education. Those schools are such a beautiful part of every kid's life who attended. Very sad but the Diocese needs to strengthen enrollment in remaining schools by advertising the incredible opportunity they offer to students. Get the word out!!
By BillWillConn3 (180), Southampton on Mar 12, 18 9:29 PM
Time for the great OLH spirit to lift up and create a new high school.

It's odd how there hasn't been any attempt to reach out to alumnae or the school community at Mercy to discuss the possibility of closure in advance. That's the way it has happened at other schools. Must be a playbook..."keep them in the dark, announce it only when it's a done deal..."
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on Mar 12, 18 10:26 PM
I attended OLP and couldn't run away from Catholic school fast enough. Back then there was corporal punishment, and the nuns really did single out some students for special treatment. But it is a great loss, both for the Community and the Church. Catholic schools around the world provided top-shelf education for people of all religions, not just Catholics. It helped maintain a culture of tolerance and acceptance in places that might not have been so open otherwise. But maybe this will force more ...more
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Mar 12, 18 10:32 PM
I’m sure Northwell made an offer for the property the Diocese’s couldn’t turn down. Now they can have their PBMC expansion.
By harbor hound (31), southampton on Mar 12, 18 10:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
I was thinking the same thing this morning. Northwell already rents property from Mercy for parking. As a parent of a 2015 Mercy graduate I can say that this would not be the first time the administration, supported by the Diocese, sold the souls of their students for greed. My heart goes out to the faculty and all the student, both past and present, who now feel abandoned by the thing they loved and trusted the most, their association with McGann Mercy.
By Deb B (8), Hampton Bays on Mar 13, 18 11:17 AM
Yep. Follow the money. The
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Mar 13, 18 2:34 PM
Take a hard look at the demographics.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Mar 13, 18 8:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
Take a hard look at the demographics.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Mar 13, 18 8:38 AM
This decision by the Diocese has just confirmed what I already knew. The Catholic church and the Catholic education system on Long Island and throughout the country are a big, corrupt business....that's all. This is nothing against our religion or faith. Most, if not all of us, made the decision to place our children in Mercy BECAUSE of our faith. The fact that we, the parents and students, were notified by a voice message directing us to view an email in regards to the closing was appalling. No ...more
By DiseaseDiocese (668), Riverhead on Mar 13, 18 12:02 PM
3 members liked this comment
This is sad news to me. Times sure are changing.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Mar 13, 18 12:23 PM
A disaster! My grandchildren are both attending Mercy. This news was given by a very cold email with no prior hint. Many of their friends who came to Mercy from Our Lady of the Hampton's will not be able to make the 40 minute or so trip to St. Joseph. Some of these children have been classmates since Kindergartenl and were devastated to hear this sad, sad news. Mercy educates children from many nearby towns and is the only Catholic High School in the general area. We have a Basilica in Southampton ...more
Mar 13, 18 12:35 PM appended by mimiann
Meant to say St. John the Baptist, not St. Joseph
By mimiann (2), Hampton Bays on Mar 13, 18 12:35 PM
2 members liked this comment
St. John's Elementary in Riverhead was abruptly closed with the same sadness and outrage felt by the parents of those children. I saw/heard it first hand at one of the (laughable) "listening sessions" Bishop Murphy was holding in response to the rage of the faithful over the child abuse scandal which had just broken. And wasn't there much the same over the closing of St. Andrews in Sag Harbor? Horrible for the children, a huge loss for the area, and an awful shame to see it trending nationwide. ...more
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Mar 13, 18 1:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Vatican has more money than GOD. Maybe GOD can intercede and get the money to keep Catholic Schools Alive. I faithfully hope so.

By farmacista1 (6), southampton on Mar 13, 18 11:05 PM
If that is His Plan.
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Mar 13, 18 11:27 PM
If anyone out there the means and vision is listening, we NEED a state of the art Catholic High school on the East End of Long Island with a President/Principal model. If religious orders like the Marianists or Jesuits are listening, we need you to run this school. God is calling, will you answer? We need a miracle. The diocese of Rockville Centre has passed over our beloved McGann-Mercy like the angel of death in a sneak attack. Oz has spoken but we, the people ,are not going to pay attention ...more
By Marsha Terry (1), Southampton on Mar 15, 18 8:38 AM
They should put it a EPCAL
By TheGoodLife (43), Westhampton Beach on Mar 16, 18 3:01 PM
You help us keep Mercy open by signing the Change.Org petition.

Can't post the link since it's in HTML and gets removed by 27East. But go the Change.Org website and search for Caryn Nabrizny.

Every little bit helps.
By niblicksreach (14), Southampton on Mar 16, 18 11:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
Anyone else notice the fact that many members of the clergy on Long Island are driving around in $80,000 cars and living in multi-million dollar homes?? The pope was recently quoted as saying he wants to look into clergy members "living the life of pharaoh". It's very frowned upon, but yet I'm witness to it every once in awhile. Take a look around. Open your eyes and realize that the catholic church and the people that run it are corrupt and hypocritical!!!
By DiseaseDiocese (668), Riverhead on Mar 16, 18 1:36 PM
2 members liked this comment
Jesuits take a vow of poverty. Your average diocesan priest does not.
By Hambone (514), New York on Mar 22, 18 5:22 PM
I don't know ANY LI clergy running around in $80,000 cars.

By baywoman (165), southampton on Mar 23, 18 3:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
Through rising taxes, the public education system is putting Catholic schools out of business. How is a normal family supposed to be able to afford private school? They are essentially being asked to pay double for the education of their children.
By TheGoodLife (43), Westhampton Beach on Mar 16, 18 2:56 PM
We went through this about three years ago. We are still open, how? The parents, students, alumni, friends, and the community. We all wrote letters to the archdiocese and flooded their offices with phone calls. We found out from them in detail what was needed to keep the school open. One of the teachers opened a go fund me page to raise the money. Between the June 1st and July 15th we not only raised the money to keep the school open, out recruiter was able to recruit almost triple the freshman ...more
By Ychiz (2), EAST ORANGE on Mar 16, 18 5:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
By Ychiz (2), EAST ORANGE on Mar 16, 18 5:37 PM
We need vouchers for private schools. They save taxpayers billions of dollars to to the less cost of a private education than public
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 18, 18 10:06 PM
There are many students that have gone from OLH to Mercy since Sr. Kathy became the principal at OLH.

In fact, if it wasn't for her and the families who support OLH, there probably wouldn't be an OLH.

The diocese has been closing/merging schools for more than 3 decades. They are known for doing it abruptly, with zero compassion or insight for the families affected. Sadly, it seems it's only gotten worse since the early 1980s. I wish all these students, their families and ...more
By localgirl (17), southampton on Mar 22, 18 1:22 AM
McGann 363 students at the same tuition as St Anthony's which has 2300. It's simple math. Up the tuition, up the endowment or up the enrollment. Barring those three things it becomes hard to sustain.
By Hambone (514), New York on Mar 22, 18 5:24 PM
Hey Hambone, this is the second thread on this topic that you have thrown in your negative opinions. It's not simple math. This isn't just a subtraction or division problem. It's a lot more complicated. You say "up the enrollment" but the Diocese never put in any effort towards recruitment/marketing. "Up the tuition" could've been a possibility...but it wasn't offered. You sound like you work for the Diocese or the church in some capacity. The other thread you wrote something along the lines of ...more
By DiseaseDiocese (668), Riverhead on Mar 22, 18 6:30 PM