Bishop Richard Pates, leader of the Des Moines Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, today announced the Assumption Catholic School in Granger will close May 25 at the end of the current school year.
The school opened in 1929 and currently has an enrollment of 62 students. The closure of the middle school was announced last month, but the bishop has now decided to close the school entirely.
Pates made the announcement Thursday, accompanied by the Rev. Dominic Assim, pastor of Assumption Parish.
A committee composed of the parish’s pastoral council, finance council and school board met in joint session Monday, March 21 after a six-month study of the school’s position and future prospects.
According to Pates, the school board members recommended a plan to keep the school open for at least one more year, but the other two bodies recommended closing in the face of current and projected financial deficits.
“It is with great regret that we announce the acceptance of the recommendation to close the school,” Pates said. “It has enjoyed a marvelous 87-year history in which the parish takes justifiable pride.”
Pates said Assumption School will help current teachers find new jobs and current students find spots in nearby Catholic schools.
“The loss of the school and transition to new settings hold significant challenge for all involved with the institution,” Pates said. “It is with gratitude that we acknowledge the contribution of so many to make the school so beneficial for so long. Especially do we commend the valiant efforts of current parents and members of the school board to seek continuation in the face of daunting financial reality.”
Pates was named the ninth bishop of the Des Moines Diocese by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. He is the third consecutive Twin Cities’ auxiliary bishop to be named ordinary of the Des Moines Diocese.
Assim has been the Granger Assumption pastor since 2015.
Assumption Church is one of the oldest churches in the Des Moines Diocese, and news of the school’s impending closure came as a surprise to area Catholics.
“It’s sad,” said Dan Spellman of Perry, a graduate of Assumption High School and now a member of the school board at St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Perry. “It was Father Luigi Liguitti, who’s buried over in Beaver Catholic Cemetery, he basically made that parish and brought the coal miners into the homestead. There’s a whole history there, and the school was a big part of that history.”
Ligutti secured a loan from the Subsistence Home Division in 1933 to resettle 50 coal-mining families on plots of two to eight acres in what is now Granger. The families worked the land part-time while working in the nearby mines, and in two years they were off government relief, and their loan repayments were almost 100 percent.
Doug Latham, principal of St. Patrick’s School, said he reached out the principal of Granger Assumption, Cindy Pezzetti, when news of the middle school’s closure reached him. He said he wanted her and parents in the Granger school to know the children were welcome at St.Patrick’s.