Catholic Free Press

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Webster schools sign agreement to combine

Posted By February 27, 2015 | 11:46 am | Local
Photos by Tanya Connor

Signing the “memorandum of understanding” about bylaws for the merging of St. Anne and St. Louis Elementary Schools in Webster are Bishop McManus and the pastors, Father Adam Reid and Father William F. Sanders.
Photos by Tanya Connor Signing the “memorandum of understanding” about bylaws for the merging of St. Anne and St. Louis Elementary Schools in Webster are Bishop McManus and the pastors, Father Adam Reid and Father William F. Sanders.

By Tanya Connor

WEBSTER – The merging of St. Louis and St. Anne elementary schools is one step closer with the signing of an agreement by the bishop and pastors.
Students and adults spoke favorably about coming together for a Mass Feb. 12 in St. Louis Church at which Bishop McManus, Father William F. Sanders and Father Adam Reid signed the “memorandum of understanding.” Father Sanders is St. Louis’ pastor. Father Reid is pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, to which St. Anne’s School belongs.
Bishop McManus said it was a historic moment and prayed  that, with everyone’s cooperation, the new school – All Saints Academy – will open in the fall of 2016.
“I think it was wonderful to be able to come together to celebrate the Holy Mass,” Jennifer Kokoszka told The Catholic Free Press afterwards. She’s been teaching kindergarten at St. Anne’s for more than 10 years and this was the first Mass she’d attended with the two schools.
“I liked hearing all the voices together,” said Emma Hewins, a St. Louis third-grader.
“I thought this Mass was cool,” said Caroline Doering, a St. Anne’s fourth-grader. “I liked how I got to see the bishop in person … when he gave me the Body of Christ.”
“I like that our schools are joining together,” said her classmate, Olivia Harris.
But the anticipated change has raised questions. She said her grandmother, who just bought her uniforms, wants to know what uniform the new school will use. And the name of the team. And who the principal and teachers will be.
And what does Olivia want to know?
“Which church are we going to use?” she responded. “I really like this church.”
Superintendent of Schools Delma L. Josephson told The Catholic Free Press both churches will be used, and other decisions still need to be made. She said it took much work to get to this point and spoke of the day as a new beginning.
Referring to Bishop McManus’ comment about this being a historic moment, the superintendent said, “That’s pretty powerful. … You have children that are sitting there who will be part of the first graduating class of All Saints Academy.”
The fact that the students sang out beautifully and were so engaged told her this was a beautiful start, she said.
“It felt like one voice; it felt like one school,” she said. Catholic Schools Office officials were there “in support of this wonderful, wonderful new initiative,” she said.
By signing the memorandum, the bishop and pastors were agreeing to a draft of bylaws for a corporation that is to be formed, she said.
“We start it the way we do things in the Catholic Church – we start it with liturgy,” she said. “That’s who we are.”
The Mass was being offered for “our school communities,” a student announced. Bishop McManus said he came to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the service the schools have given.
The bishop told listeners he came to pray for them, their schools and their families, that together they will help each other find their way home to their Father’s house.
Among prayer petitions was one for the coming together of the schools. Songs, for which students and pastors sometimes clapped in time with the music, also spoke of unity.
After Bishop McManus announced that he and the priests were going to sign the memorandum, he asked listeners to pray silently for the Holy Spirit to come upon Webster. He spoke of building up excellent Catholic education, which he said has been present and is to continue with the combining of the schools.
After the signing the bishop said, “Please join me in celebrating this very historic moment,” and led a round of applause.
“Everyone showed a wonderful spirit; the kids sang together,” said St. Anne’s principal, Sister Constance Bayeur, a Sister of St. Anne. She said she liked how the teachers from each school, who planned the Mass, had students from the two schools sit together by grade level.
Father Sanders declined to comment, simply referring The Catholic Free Press to the bishop’s words at Mass.
“I was delighted at what transpired here this morning,” said Father Reid. “I thought it was a very clear and tangible sign of the great potential of this new school.
“I thought it also demonstrated the investment that people had made and are willing to continue to make to ensure that this new school is a success.”
He said several parents from both schools attended the Mass, and that parents are very invested in their schools, extremely desirous of doing what they can to ensure that Catholic education continues in Webster.