Immaculate Conception Cathedral Announces Closure of High School
Preschool through Eighth Grade Classes to Remain Open
Memphis, Tenn. – May 26, 2020 — After a thorough evaluation and much prayer, Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Memphis today announced the closure of its high school, grades ninth through twelfth, as of June 30, 2020. The preschool through eighth grade classes will remain open.
“This is a heartbreaking decision given the rich history of the school,” said Very Rev. Robert W. Marshall, Jr., Pastor of the Cathedral parish. “We prayed about the decision many times and looked at all possibilities from several angles. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has affected not only our daily lives, but has had profound repercussions on the nation’s economy. These financial difficulties have made it impossible for the parish to continue operating the high school portion of our school.”
“We had hope that our recruiting efforts, combined with the availability of Tennessee Educational Savings Accounts (ESA), would enable our enrollment to grow in 2020-21,” said Superintendent of Memphis Catholic Schools Janet Donato. “Over these past few months, as unemployment rates rose and incomes declined, it became increasingly clear that our hopes were not sustainable. Rather than growth, the recent economic downturn signaled a further decline in our high school enrollment. We also believe the competition of other private and public schools, especially charter schools, contributed to the steady decline in our enrollment. The elementary and middle schools have been able to remain viable.”
Immaculate Conception Cathedral is honored to be a part of the Midtown Memphis community. Through the work of school leaders, teachers, alumni and volunteers today and for many years, the parish considers it a blessing and privilege to provide a strong Catholic education since opening the campus in 1922. In various configurations, the high school has lasted 98 years and, since 1950, the parish has been dedicated to educating thousands of young women with great success. All other Catholic high schools in operation at that time have closed or relocated. It is with much sadness a high school that survived so well would fall to a pandemic; however, the faith first planted on the campus by the Sisters of Mercy years ago will continue to blossom in all who were blessed by them.
“While this has been an incredibly emotional decision for all involved, it is our goal to minimize the sorrow that our high school students will experience from this closure, and we will do all we can to help place them in the safe, nurturing and supportive educational environment of another Catholic School,” said Father Marshall. “We want the transition to be as smooth as possible for our students and parents–so meetings will be offered to discuss each young woman’s future education. The same will be done for the faculty members.”
Father Marshall added, “Despite everyone’s hard work, the expense of operating a high school in a pandemic economy is far beyond what our parish and the school community would be able to sustain. Our parish resources have been largely exhausted and, while we could have waited for a few more months and unrealistically hoped for the best, it would not be fair to the students and faculty who need to use these months to seek new schools or other employment. We pray that God will bless each affected family during this transition and always.”
About Catholic Diocese of Memphis
The Catholic Diocese of Memphis was established in 1971 and presently consists of 46 parishes and missions with 10 Catholic schools in four deaneries across 21 counties in West Tennessee. More than 70,000 Catholics make this diverse, vibrant and faith-filled diocese their home. Led by Bishop David P. Talley, the Diocese of Memphis is committed to helping the faithful encounter the living Christ through conversion, communion, service and unity. The Diocese of Memphis respectfully serves all God’s children, regardless of their religious beliefs, socio-economic status or ethnic background. Please visit us at cdom.org.