Diocese to close 72-year-old Catholic school in Richmond

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72-year-old Catholic school in Richmond to close
St. Cornelius Catholic School is located at 201 28th Street in Richmond.

St. Cornelius Catholic School in Richmond will close due to declining enrollment, The Catholic Voice, a publication of the Diocese of Oakland, reported on Monday.

Founded in 1948, the K-8 school located at 201 28th St. serves 140 students, according to its website. St. Cornelius is a member of Lumen Christi Academies, a network of seven Catholic schools in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Families from St. Cornelius will be aided in transitioning children to Catholic schools in the area including St. Paul Catholic School in San Pablo and Lumen Christi Academy, which is two miles away from St. Cornelius. Faculty will be offered the opportunity to consider positions in Diocese Catholic schools.

“This was a difficult decision to make as it comes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rodney Pierre-Antoine, executive director of Lumen Christi Academies.

Families at the school are upset over the decision. School parent Maria Rojas is circulating a letter on behalf of families requesting a grievance hearing for the “last minute, unplanned decision” to close the 72-year-old school. Rojas accused the Diocese and St. Cornelius parish of failing to invest, market and raise funds to support the mostly minority, financially disadvantaged families who attend St. Cornelius.

Rojas said parents found out about the state of the school before the COVID-19 pandemic and, in an effort to increase attendance, created a Principal Advisory Committee aiming to market the school to the community. Families are requesting more time to come up with solutions to save the school.

The six other Lumen Christi Academies schools serve almost 1,300 students and will continue to operate, according to the The Catholic Voice. Lumen Christi Academies was founded two years ago and the Diocese credits the network of schools for updating curriculum resources, sustaining professional development in partnership with Loyola Marymount University, streamliing financial operations and securing grant funding for capital projects.

“We treasure our memories of how St. Cornelius School has served the Richmond community and honor the students, faculty, staff, alumni and parishioners who have contributed to the school’s long legacy,” Pierre-Antoine said in The Catholic Voice article. “While St. Cornelius School will not continue, its positive impact on the parish and community will endure.”