By Tim Harfmann
Enrollment is up at St. Brigid-St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Academy in Bushwick, Brooklyn. There are now 270 students, up from 150 last year.
As pastor of the Bushwick parish, Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay welcomes students.
“I really wish for them to enjoy the first day of class and also to see, to think that this is home for them,” said. Fr. Ortiz
For some children, this is a new home, after St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Academy closed last year due to declining enrollment, which forced serious budget cuts. The school then merged with St. Brigid.
“I feel weird and nervous because I’m going back to school in a different school,” said Javier Hernandes, a sixth grader who is new to the merged academy.
Though he’s nervous, Javier is happy to know his friends have also transferred. “I feel excited, because at least I’ll have some friends to talk to,” he said.
Mayra and Rafael Diaz are parents who sent their two kids to St. Frances Cabrini as well. After attending public school as children, they wanted their kids to remain in Catholic school.
“I’ve actually seen public schools get progressively worse since I went through,” said Rafael.
“It’s the balance between the academics, that spiritual life and that important relationship to have with God,” Mayra explained.
Fr. Jorge says that is the drive behind the school’s commitment to being a strong, Catholic presence in the neighborhood.
“It’s an investment of life. Also, if we keep these kids here, they are happy, they understand that the school is such a home. You know what? At the end, they will stay in the Church.”
The Diocese of Brooklyn offers special scholarships to students. Last year, 4, 700 kids earned over $7 million.