Cardinal responds to new Catholic school closures in Chicago area

We heard from Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich for the first time Tuesday since the Archdiocese announced it would be closing five schools in the city and suburbs.

Cupich was at the annual breakfast fundraiser for Catholic education.

More schools could be on the chopping block. The Catholic Diocese is in the middle of assessing schools and parishes. They are determining how to move forward with declining enrollment and a lack of funds.

"I think being in a Catholic school is very important because there's nothing like anything else," said Damen Ward, Leo Catholic High School junior.

Students from Chicago’s Leo Catholic High School are optimistic about their future and the future of their school. 

"We've graduated 100 percent of our seniors nine years in a row and more than 90 percent of them have gone onto college,” said Dan McGrath, President of Leo Catholic High School. 

Unfortunately, the scholastic journey for students at five other Catholic schools throughout the Chicago area and suburbs will be ending following this school year. 

"We don't take these decisions lightly, in fact, we tried to give people as much advance notice as possible about the situation that their school is in," said Cardinal Cupich. 

According to the Chicago Tribune, Catholic school enrollment has declined 29 percent since 2005, a loss of more than 30,000 students.  

In the case of the upcoming closures, the schools were unable to raise enough money to keep their doors open or they failed to meet student enrollment goals, according to the Archdiocese. 

"We see that many of the parishes have shrinking not only enrollment in the schools, but attendance at mass because of changing demographics. We just want to make sure that all of our parishes have the proper resources they need going forward,” said Cardinal Cupich. 

The Archdiocese should wrap up its assessment of school and parish closings within the next two to three years. That's when we'll know exactly how many will be closing in total.