The decision to close SS. Peter and Paul School is, in my opinion, very premature. A couple years ago when I, a 1975 graduate of the school, was informed at Mass that the school was in financial jeopardy, I stood up to raise the suggestion that graduate students (for example, those in a master of business administration program) be summoned for some fresh ideas on bolstering the school's finances.
Judging by the blank stare I received at the time, I suspect this suggestion was never pursued. When I learned of the closure decision, I wrote the school, the parish and the diocese to get a copy of the study that led the leadership to such a decision. Only the parish responded to my request with the statement that all information must come from the diocese.
I can interpret this as only a statement that their "study" doesn't hold water.
Let me first say that my heart breaks for the economic plight of the people not only of Lehighton, but throughout the region. I realize that keeping the school open is a true challenge and requires great leadership. But let me make a suggestion: Assuming it is true that the parish cannot sustain a Catholic school in Lehighton, then the school can be redesignated as a Christian school to be supported by the larger Christian community in the town.
At 52, I have learned that the differences between Catholic and Protestant beliefs are highly overstated, seemingly dealing mostly with the ranking of Mary, the mother of Jesus; rituals during services; and some of the sacraments, such as communion and confession. However, the central beliefs of both, that is, that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, are the same, and both "sides" not coincidentally trust in the works of both St. Peter and St. Paul. Therefore, it seems that before nailing the doors shut, the parish should link arms with the other Christian churches in Lehighton to experiment with a year or so of SS. Peter and Paul Christian School. I believe enrollment would increase to a point above the level needed to sustain the school.
Yes, this would most likely remove the school from the direct control of the parish and diocese, but it would also ensure that parish children would be educated within a Christian learning environment, and it would almost surely give both Catholic and Protestant children a broader religious experience.
Therefore, to those who so cling to the concept that the school must be Catholic that they are willing to close it rather than link arms with their Christian cousins, I say, "Shame on you. God is watching your ridiculous, petty-minded and shortsighted decision."
While attending public school has many positive aspects and is hardly the worst thing that could happen to our students, it is absurd to "roll over and die" on this issue. Open your eyes. Get off your butts. Link arms with your "cousins" throughout Lehighton. See what you can come up with.
I bet you can keep the school open. And before you call for the hammer and nails again, give me a call.
Eric P. Roos, MPA, MSM