Divine Mercy Regional School won’t open because of low enrollment

GARDEN CITY — A planned regional Catholic school combining four west-side Catholic grade schools will not open in the fall as originally planned because of low enrollment numbers.

Divine Mercy Roman Catholic Regional School, which was to be supported by the Wayne County parishes of St. Genevieve-St. Maurice in Livonia, St. Damian in Westland, St. Robert Bellarmine in Redford and St. Thomas the Apostle in Garden City, has failed to enroll enough students to make the new school financially feasible, according to a letter from the four parishes’ pastors.

“While tremendous efforts to establish the regional school were made by many, and significant resources were put forth by all our parishes, Divine Mercy Regional School fell short of an enrollment commitment that would have made the school financially possible,” said the March 16 letter to parents signed by Bishop Francis Reiss, who is acting as administrator of St. Damian Parish, along with Fr. Simeon Iber of St. Thomas the Apostle, Fr. Howard Vogan of St. Genevieve-St. Maurice and Fr. Richard Laliaert of St. Robert Bellarmine.

The new school had fewer than 80 students enrolled as of mid-March; to make the school possible, it would have needed at least 250.

Divine Mercy Regional School was planned to be housed at the site of the current St. Raphael School in Garden City, and open houses had taken place. A school mascot, uniforms and logo had recently been unveiled.

The four pastors expressed regret at the necessity of the decision, adding plans to close the three remaining parish-based schools of St. Raphael, St. Damian and St. Genevieve would proceed as planned. St. Robert Bellarmine School closed at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

The letter acknowledged the decision means many parents will have to continue looking for education options for their children in 2016-17.

Parents looking to enroll their child in a Catholic school have other options within a short drive from St. Raphael’s campus, including St. Michael the Archangel in Livonia, St. Linus and St. Anselm in Dearborn Heights, Divine Child in Dearborn and St. Mary School in Wayne.

“We are blessed and encouraged that, within a reasonable driving radius of our St. Raphael campus and your homes, there are quality options for your children to continue a Christ-centered education in Catholic schools,” the pastors said.