A Growing Number of Catholic Schools Are Shutting Down Forever

For Isabel Romero, who was supposed to complete her senior year at the Institute of Notre Dame, the news of the closure was devastating, particularly since she was looking forward to special senior year traditions. At graduation, all the girls dress in identical white gowns, holding a dozen long-stemmed red roses, a custom that alums and students hold dear.

“There are times when reality sets in and it’s like, ‘Oh, I wont be going there next year,’ and you just start to cry again,” Ms. Romero, 17, said.

“When I first stepped into I.N.D. it actually felt warm, friendly and comforting,” she said. She is not certain if she will feel the same sense of belonging at her new school, especially as she is attending classes online.

Parochial schools have provided an alternative to public schools for some low-income families, non-Catholics included, seeking both academic and spiritual development, school leaders say.

Catholic education was once seen as “the surest ticket out of poverty for generations of low-income families, but in particular immigrants,” Mr. Carroll, the superintendent in Boston, said. “Schools that got hit the hardest were schools that were low-income and working-class populations.”

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles — which runs the largest Catholic school system in the country, serving about 73,000 students — has had to close two elementary schools, one that served predominantly Latino children, many of them with working-class parents, said Paul Escala, the superintendent and senior director of Catholic schools for the archdiocese.

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