St. Catherine of Siena School a separate entity

| November 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

Until everyone’s voice is heard, recorded, and acted upon correctly, I plan to keep you updated through the Martinez News-Gazette. It is the best way for me to communicate with everyone, although we are in the process of creating a Facebook page and collecting emails at stcatherinesvoices@gmail.com to make sure we reach as many people as possible.

First, thank you to everyone for the support. The feedback I have received has been tremendous and affirms the frustration we all have experienced over the last twenty years. Please make sure you let the Bishop, and the current leaders at St. Catherine’s church know how you feel. Your voices have been ignored for too long. (As a FYI, I have asked the Diocese to hire a third party fiduciary to handle the unraveling of all the campaigns and I have received deathly silence.)

Second, I want to clarify one very important matter. Please realize that the problems that the church faces are not tied to St. Catherine of Siena school. A couple of years ago, the school spun off the church and joined four other schools to form the Lumen Christi Academy. Although the building is on the church property, it is now separate from the church. Since merging into the Academy, the school has started to rebound and improve its attendance. We want to make sure the school continues to maintain that momentum and not fall victim to the severe lack of leadership at the parish.

The church can support the school and its facilities if it chooses to. In fact, the church provides scholarships to students at St. Catherine of Sienna school. Although from my understanding, there has been nothing or very little given to the school for its facilities.

Yet, at the “State of the Church” meeting on October 30, 2019, Father Anthony presented a list of items that needed to be done at the school, basically implying that if the gym money is “redirected” to the church, it can be used for the school. Even though the school has needed a new boiler and windows since Father Anthony has been here, he chose instead to paint the church, add marble to alter floor, and redo the pews. All cosmetics while real needs for the students were left unfunded. History seems to support the school’s needs are not on top of the list for Father Anthony. Unfortunately, I feel the school has become a pawn as the church leaders try to grab money to improve their own projects.

I think everything can be summed up by this comment made by Father Anthony in regard to why he has not improved the school, he basically stated “You do not buy fine China for the Titanic.”  My question back to Father Anthony would have been, “So do you just turn your back on the faith of 120 kids on the Titanic?”

The last thing anyone from Martinez wants is for our kids to be harmed. The school is coming back and really beginning to thrive. Just recently, there was a 70th Anniversary Dinner celebrating the school’s history which was well-attended and a huge success.

I am asking for all the alumni to step up and give the school your full support as it keeps moving and improving. It should not be a pawn in this game of greed. Keep #STCS STRONG!

If you want your money to be redirected to St.Catherine of Siena School, I recommend you ask for instructions on how to make sure the funds end up at the Lumen Christi Academy. Then make sure those funds are specifically earmarked for the St. Catherine of Siena school site.

As I stated in the first article of this series, there are no safeguards, at this time, to make sure the money is spent correctly if it is “redirected” back to the church. The Diocese should be able to help you if you choose to donate to the academy. You can contact the Diocese CFO, Paul Bongiovanni, at pbongiovanni@oakdiocese.org for further instructions.

If you are disgusted at the conduct of the church leaders at St. Catherine’s and how callously they treat the education and faith of the students at St. Catherine of Siena School, please let Bishop Barber know by emailing him at bishop@oakdiocese.org. The irony of this piece of the puzzle is that Bishop Barber is the Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Catholic Education, thereby in charge of all Catholic Education in the United States. I think he is failing at the mission in Martinez. And I am not even sure if he really cares.

– John Fuller

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