Manistee Catholic Central supporter expresses support to keep school open

May 4, 2024

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Dear Editor,

Manistee Catholic Central School is celebrating 60 years of education in northwestern Michigan and the Diocese of Gaylord.  MCCS has enjoyed a competitive rivalry with Mason County Eastern as members of the West Michigan D League as well as the benefits of co-oping with MCE Cardinals in sports.  Regrettably, on April 9 Diocese of Gaylord Bishop Jeffrey Walsh announced that Manistee Catholic Central School would close at the end of the year.  Bishop Walsh’s decision was based on a three month viability study.

In response to Bishop Walsh’s decision, Manistee Catholic Central School Foundation, an independent entity, has moved ahead with legal action in the form of an appeal to Rome. As reported in the Manistee News Advocate on May 3 the MCCS Foundation has also requested to lease the facility from the Diocese and assume responsibility for financing and operating MCCS. 

The Foundation’s request to operate MCCS as a private Catholic school is viable. Their proposal removes the burden from Divine Mercy Parish yet allows MCCS to continue its mission. Established in 1984 as a 501(c)(3) to support MCCS the Foundation manages significant financial assets. It is governed by a 15 member board which includes business and professional men and women of Manistee. Their proposal is neither frivolous nor radical.

Independent Catholic schools are not a new phenomenon.  Muskegon Catholic Central has operated as an independent private Catholic school since 2005.  It is financially independent yet maintains its Catholic Identity with an operating agreement with Diocese of Grand Rapids.

An essential question is whether MCCS is fulfilling its mission?  Executive Director Brian Broderick of Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools confirmed that MCCS is fully accredited and meets the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools.   It is important to note that men from the Manistee Catholic Community responding in recent years to a vocation to the priesthood received their formation in part at MCCS.  Specifically, Father William Zwiefka (Class of 1974), Father Richard Bartoszek (Class of 1977) and Father Alex Kowalkowski (Class of 2012).

Administrator Father Mitchel Roman cited immediate capital expenses in the sum of $1,500,000 to “continue school operations.”    Anyone who has visited the MCCS campus recognizes the facility is safe and secure for students. The “We Believe” Capital Campaign, 2005-2010, raised $1.25 million and addressed many of Father Roman’s concerns. Ongoing maintenance and upgrades is a given for any facility even a family home.

In a March 21, 2024 letter to the Catholic Community of Manistee Bishop Walsh stated “…my decision regarding MCC boils down to finances.” The MCCS Foundation has requested to lease the facility and manage it as a private Catholic School in accordance with the National Catholic Standards it is currently held to.  This would relieve the Diocese and Parish of their financial burden and avoid the risk of losing Divine Mercy Parish. It would assure the continuation of 144 years of Catholic education in Manistee.


Ed Kolanowski


Retiree MCCS 2018

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