In a Jan. 21 letter Sister Elizabeth Meegan, OP, diocesan
superintendent of schools, informed Monroe County Catholic schools and
parents that — contrary to a previous announcement from the high
school’s administration — Bishop Kearney High School would not be
opening its own junior-high program next fall.
Last fall, Bishop Kearney had informed parents of its plans to
establish its own junior high in 2004-05 to replace Bishop Hogan
Catholic Academy, a diocesan-operated junior-high school that has been
located in the Bishop Kearney building since 1990. Formerly known as
Northeastern Catholic Junior High School, it was renamed Bishop Hogan
Kearney’s announcement was made shortly after Sister Meegan
announced in November 2003 that Hogan would close this spring after the
current lease expires this June. Diocesan officials were unable to
negotiate a new lease for space in the Kearney building beyond the
2004-2005 school year or to find a suitable alternative location for
the junior high school.
However, Sister Meegan’s Jan. 21 letter noted that Bishop Kearney
High School had acknowledged Bishop Matthew H. Clark’s decision to deny
the high school’s request to open its own junior high.
Independent Catholic high schools such as Bishop Kearney must obtain
permission of the diocesan bishop for significant configuration
changes. Bishop Clark has opposed Kearney’s plans for a junior high
because of fears that it would dilute the enrollment pool for all
Catholic junior highs in the diocese.
Sister Meegan’s Jan. 21 letter was sent to all diocesan schools in
Monroe County and from there was to be sent home to parents. She noted
that officials from Bishop Kearney had met with diocesan officials Dec.
10, 2003. “As a result of that meeting, Bishop Kearney officials
understand that, in a letter dated June 30, 2003, Bishop Clark made a
decision not to authorize Bishop Kearney’s establishment of a junior
high-school program. Bishop Kearney officials recognize the bishop’s
authority in this decision,” her letter stated. Diocesan officials
noted that this statement in the letter had been jointly agreed on by
Bishop Kearney and the diocese.
Michael Tedesco, diocesan spokesman, said Jan. 22 that it was his
understanding that Bishop Kearney has moved away from its plans. Yet he
said Sister Meegan issued the Jan. 21 letter because “we realized the
officials from Bishop Kearney had failed to get back to the parents”
about the fact that no junior high school would be operating in the
Kearney building in 2004-05. This communications lapse was causing
confusion as the Catholic school registration period for 2004-05
approached, he said.
However, Kearney spokesman Mark Ball refused to say whether the
school has abandoned hopes of establishing a junior high next year.
Ball acknowledged that “Bishop Clark has the final word on anything
with Catholic schools.” But he added, “We’re going to be working with
him and meeting with him. … He has been extremely responsive to our
concerns. We have opened up a dialogue and are very, very positive
about the future.”
Tedesco said, however, that the bishop had left no doubt about his
decision after the last meeting with Kearney officials.
Ball declined to comment on the letter from Sister Meegan, saying
“It would be inappropriate (to do so) because it was not a joint
He said Bishop Kearney is currently accepting registrations for
grades 9-12 only, and that the Irondequoit high school wishes to retain
its Catholic identity.
Vilma Goetting, principal of Bishop Hogan Academy, said parents of
current Bishop Hogan students seem to understand that there will be no
junior high in the Bishop Kearney building this fall, and that many are
registering their children at other Catholic junior-high schools for
“I have received no questions at all at this point. I think it was
fairly clear to our people that we would not be here,” Goetting
According to Colleen D’Hondt, principal of Irondequoit’s Christ the
King School, 18 of the school’s 20 sixth-grade students are already
registered at Catholic schools for 2004-05, with the majority heading
either to Siena Catholic Academy in Brighton or All Saints Academy in
Gates. Traditionally, she said, approximately half the sixth-graders
would enroll at Bishop Hogan Academy, which is located less than a mile
from Christ the King.
“We’re very pleased,” D’Hondt said of the high percentage that will
continue in the Catholic school system.