It came in the form of an announcement to the parish, and it wasn’t a big surprise. After a few years of struggle, Our Lady of Victory School will close at the end of the current academic year. The announcement ends a run that began under the Rev. Thomas J. McMahon, the pastor responsible for the current plant on Jones Hill Road.
The Rev. Kevin Dillon made the announcement, and parish meeting was conducted last week answer question.
“It is with a heavy heart that I made this difficult decision,” Dillon said in his announcement. “But sadly the school’s financial reserves have been depleted over the years due to declining enrollment, escalating costs of operation, and diminishment of parish subsidies. The bottom line is that the school can no longer sustain itself.”
According to current enrollment figures given by the school, only 94 students attended this year, well down from the almost 300 that attended in the 1960s and 1970s. Enrollment has been a problem for the school before and prompted a change in 1990s.
Originally founded as a junior high school, Our Lady of Victory was built to house sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. That model became unsustainable and a decision was made to begin including earlier grades.
The current tuition is about $5,000, and that is the main source of funding as it was one of the few remaining “parochial schools” in the Archdiocese of Hartford that went to a regional plan several years ago. Students can attend St. Lawrence on Main Street, which can accommodate the new influx of students.
At issue for most parish schools is the rising cost of operation and the declining enrollment due to smaller families.
Originally staffed by the Ursuline Sisters, the declining numbers of teaching sisters and closing of convents has been a major problem in keeping parochial schools open. Fewer sisters meant schools had to hire lay teachers with larger financial needs.
The closure comes as the second step in a reorganization of the entire parish structure in the Archdiocese of Hartford.
On June 29, two churches in the city were closed as part of a diocesan-wide restructuring. St. Paul’s and St. John Vianney were closed to regular Sunday services, but remain open for funerals and weddings. Our Lady of Victory became one larger parish, while St. Lawrence and St. Louis Parish along with the closed parishes form St. John XXIII parish, with the churches of both remaining open.
It was expected the Archdiocesan Office of Education would implement a wide-ranging restructuring as well. The announcement last week was part of that overall restructuring plan.