School parents to ask Pope for help
By HELEN JACK
THE OUR Lady of Lourdes Infants School is to be sacrificed so St Carthage's School can get a building grant.
And parents of students at the East Lismore school are so angry they intend protesting to the Pope.
St Carthage's needs a grant to get building work done, but the grant depends on student numbers, and currently there aren't enough.
A committee of parents of OLOL students believe the Catholic Education Office wants Our Lady of Lourdes students to enrol at St Carthage's to boost those numbers.
Parents are livid at what they believe is a lack of consultation by the diocese.
They are so cranky at not being heard they are preparing a letter to Pope Benedict XVI about the school's closure.
"What the Lismore Diocese is saying just doesn't make sense," parent Barry Robinson said.
"There is no guarantee parents will enrol children at St Carthage's to join the 650 students there. It's wrong. We've put our children here because it's a small school."
A background information sheet supplied to parents by the diocese said 'the application for the refurbishment of St Carthage's is not linked with future Catholic educational provision at Goonellabah'.
The sheet states at some time in the future there may be a Catholic school at Goonellabah.
Closure of the school is planned for 2010, so students already enrolled can finish their infants' education there. The Parish Finance Council is formulating site plans, which are still in preliminary stages.
Bishop of Lismore, Most Rev Geoffrey Jarrett, said the eventual closure of OLOL was final and would not be overturned.
"Today we are facing circumstances very different from the days which saw the development of the infant school in East Lismore," he said.
"It is inevitable the decision, which must be made, will not meet with everybody's approval."
Teachers at OLOL were informed of the school's eventual closure last March, and parents have been lobbying Federal and State ministers to block it. A petition with 290 names has gone to Bishop Jarrett.
"To date Fr Dennis Carroll and the Catholic Education Office has not met with parents regarding this issue," Mr Robinson said.