MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – After 57 years, plans are in place to close Divine Mercy Catholic Academy. Parents are fighting for a second chance.
Parents received an email from the church Friday afternoon containing a letter from the school’s pastor, Kenny Aquino, informing them that the school would “merge” with Our Savior Catholic School in Cocoa Beach, St. Mary Catholic School in Rockledge and St. Teresa Catholic school in Titusville for the 2021-2022 school year, citing falling enrollment, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
“After serious study of demographics, facility needs, parish financial capacity and consideration of all other alternatives, and in consultation with local pastors and principals, Bishop Noonan and Superintendent Henry Fortier, the difficult decision has been made to merge Divine Mercy Academy with three nearby Catholic schools,” Aquino wrote. “Catholic education will continue at Divine Mercy parish, just not on our property.”
The news sparked outrage among many parents, who said they felt blindsided by the decision.
Parents created a Facebook group, “Save Divine Mercy Catholic Academy,” and began brainstorming ways to keep the school open. The Facebook group had attracted close to 350 members by Tuesday afternoon. By that time, an online fundraiser with a $250,000 goal to keep the school running another year had raised $750, and an online petition netted over 750 signatures.
On Monday evening, almost 80 parents attended an impromptu meeting in the church parking lot to organize an effort to save the school. They called the school community their family, and said they were willing to try anything to save it.
Many parents said they felt that they weren’t given an opportunity to fight for the school, and could have raised more money if they knew how dire the school’s trouble was.