One day after the news of Bishop McGann-Mercy’s pending closure came out, the shock waves were still being felt. The pain was real.
“It’s like mourning the loss of a loved one,” Mercy football coach Jeff Doroski said. “We’re going to go through that period of sadness and grief.”
Mr. Doroski’s connections to the school may be deeper and more complex than most others. Not only was he a student-athlete at Mercy, but he has served the school as a coach in a variety of sports, as an athletic director, and a teacher in addition to being a Mercy parent. His son, Christian, is a Mercy freshman. In addition, his father, Alex, and his wife, Lyndsay, both attended Mercy.
Mr. Doroski said he was “kind of surprised” when he learned of the news at a faculty meeting Monday. He said he thought the presence of a Catholic high school on eastern Long Island was something the diocese wouldn’t forgo.
“It’s been a tough day for all the Mercy family,” he said. “I go through a range of emotions. I try to block some of it out, but there’s a reality — there’s no going back to this. It’s a lot to process.”
Among those trying to process it was Keith Schroeher of Riverhead. Mr. Schroeher said he and his wife, Anita, took the news hard and were in tears after seeing the news on his Facebook newsfeed and then a video the diocese put out. “It’s like you learned that somebody just died,” he said.
Not only had Mr. Schroeher coached baseball and football at Mercy, but his son, also named Keith, and his daughter, Kayla, were student-athletes for the Monarchs. The younger Keith played baseball for the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx and is now a New York City police officer. Kayla is in her fourth year at Springfield College (Mass.), where she plays lacrosse. She plans to become a teacher.
“The lessons that were taught to them at Mercy will live forever,” he said. “That cloth is woven into the fiber of my kids.”
Mike Clauberg, the Mercy girls tennis coach, has coached at Mercy for 18 years and taught there for 13. He currently is the campus minister for St. Anthony’s High School.
“It’s a difficult decision for the diocese,” Mr. Clauberg said. “I feel bad for everybody. I feel bad for eastern Long Island. I kind of sympathize with the bishop and what the bishop said. This is going to be hard for the families and the people. Mercy is more than just a building. It’s about the spirit that encompasses the people of the church.”
Mr. Doroski said: “It’s a sad day for our community. Mercy is always going to be part of your story and nobody can change that or take that away from you.”
As real as the school’s green and gold colors is the sense Mercy has of being a small community.
“It was more than a business, it was a family,” Mr. Schroeher said. “We have to remember, as cold and stark as it is, it is still a business.”
That harsh reminder was delivered Monday.
“I hope the kids that go there realize, if they don’t already, how special it was,” Mr. Schroeher said. “I feel sorry for the students and the faculty for the rest of this year. It’s going to be like a slow funeral march and how does that not affect you?”
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy players celebrate their 16-0 homecoming victory over Wyandanch in October. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk file photo)