St. Joseph School, part of the Parish of St. Joseph in Homewood, will close at the end of this school year. The school opened in 1926.
A statement Wednesday, Jan. 11, from the Archdiocese of Chicago read:
“After careful deliberation on the long-term sustainability of the school, school and parish leadership recommended that St. Joseph School in Homewood not reopen for the 2017/2018 school year. This recommendation was reviewed and endorsed by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Schools and the Archdiocesan School Board, as well as Vicariate Bishop Joseph Perry.
“Cardinal Blase J. Cupich has accepted the recommendation. As a result, St. Joseph School in Homewood will close, effective June 30, 2017.”
“For over 90 years, St. Joseph School has provided a superb education for tens of thousands of young people who have gone on to achieve great things in their lives,” said Rev. Robert Kyfes, pastor at St. Joseph. “For those nine decades, the dedicated faculty members — lay and religious — have inculcated Catholic Christian values in the young people of Homewood and surrounding communities, preparing them to make good choices in life and inspiring them to live their faith each day. For all of that, we should be forever grateful.”
The first school was a six-room brick building. It opened Sept. 7, 1926, with an enrollment of 72 students. Nuns of the Dominican Sisters order based in Adrian, Mich., were the school’s teachers. The school saw steady enrollment, and by 1943, there were 201 students.
In 1951, recognizing a future “baby boom” following World War II, the parish put an addition onto the original school building. A second addition was added in 1955. By the 1961-62 school year, there were 1,050 students at St. Joseph School.
As surrounding parishes built schools, the enrollment at St. Joseph tapered off. In the 1970-71 school year, there were 678 students.
Sister Nancy Fischer served as the school’s principal for 33 years until her retirement in 2002. Her departure ended 76 years of work at the school by Dominican Sisters.
When the parish marked its 100th anniversary in 2012, the school had 250 students, but enrollment continued on a downward trend.
“The demographics of our community and of those surrounding us have changed over the past decade, with the presence of fewer young families, fewer large families and significantly fewer Catholics,” Kyfes said.
The school building will continue to be used for other parish needs.