It was a bittersweet moment, as Maureen Reichert stood in her former classroom at Holy Trinity Catholic Academy in Whitestone, Queens. The school closed its doors for good on August 31, 2020.
Maureen was in their very first class in 1967, one of 63 students.
“We had no uniforms yet, that was to come,” she reminisced. “We had no doors, blackboards yes, no closets.”
However, it’s what they did have that stuck with Maureen: strong teachers, a tight-knit community and a life-long commitment to her faith.
“It has truly formed me, this school,” she told Currents News
She even sent her two children there. But now, just a few pieces of furniture and empty bulletin boards remain — part of her forever gone.
“It’s really sad, it’s a fact of life,” she explained. “I know it’s financial issues. It’s always very difficult.”
Holy Trinity was one of six Catholic academies in the Diocese of Brooklyn to close on August 31. The pandemic took the school’s final breath, decimating their enrollment and finances.
This disappointing trend is being seen around the country. 140 Catholic schools have had to permanently close because of the pandemic, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They warn that hundreds more could be in danger without federal aid.
Maureen is urging all families to keep sending their children to Catholic schools. She and her pastor, Father Joseph Gibino explain that they’re essential, because they help instill a lifelong love for God.
They also create a lifelong community, one Maureen especially felt, after losing her mom ten years ago.
“All these people from Holy Trinity were there, it was so comforting, and I think we miss that now,” she said. “So this has been my base, for life.”
While Holy Trinity Catholic Academy might be closed, it’s memory and the impact it had on alumni will forever live on.