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‘We’re asking to fight.’ Parents, students call on officials to save Wayne Catholic school from closing

Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Wayne announced plans to close at the end of this school year.

Joti Rekhi

May 17, 2024, 9:52 PM

Updated 37 days ago

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The decision to close a North Jersey Catholic school has angered several school parents into taking action to try and reverse the decision. Immaculate Heart of Mary in Wayne, which has been a part of the parish since 1959, announced the school will not be opening for the 2024-2025 school year.
In a recent newsletter to the parish, Father Mateusz Jasniewicz cites how difficult the decision to close the school was and attributed it to unsustainable circumstances, enrollment and economic challenges.
Jasniewicz writes, “This decision does not come lightly. It stems from deep consideration of our unsustainable circumstances.”
Parents and students packed a meeting Friday evening to discuss the decision with school and church officials. Fourth grader Jayden Ortiz and his mother Isabel Acevedo were among those in attendance.
“I’m sad because when I was in kindergarten I saw all these kids grow up, graduate and get to leave this school. Well I’m now I’m fourth grade and now I have to leave my school because they want to shut it down,” said Ortiz.
Jasniewicz said there’s been a major decrease in enrollment, down from 152 students this academic year to 135 next year. The expected deficit for the next school year is $375,000.
“We’re asking to fight. We’re asking for a way to help and to support the school and they’re not giving us an option even when we’re offering it,” said Acevedo. “They’re saying it’s not feasible.”
They had the goal of raising $10,000 every month but have only been able to fundraise $70,000 so far.
Brian Stieve intends on setting up a GoFundMe to try and keep his child’s school open.
“Obviously, a lot of emotion, a lot of frustration. But we’re just trying to get the simple facts of ‘What is the number that you need to keep the school open?’ It’s a very straightforward question. We couldn’t really get a direct response,” said Stieve.
The announcement comes as several other area Catholic schools have closed their doors in recent years.
Parents have also created a petition calling for the Diocese of Paterson Superintendent of Schools Mary Baier to resign.
Baier released a statement saying, “This is a time of much sadness, pain, and grief for Immaculate Heart of Mary School, very similar to experiencing a death in the family. We need to support our school community: pastor, principal, students, families, faculty, and staff in all ways possible and to make this transition one filled with understanding, kindness, and care.”
The Diocese of Paterson will provide a $1,500 grant for each student who transfers to a Catholic elementary school within the Diocese of Paterson. The grant will be given to the chosen school for one year.


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