The closure of Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead shook the Catholic school community on the North Fork.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre announced the closure in March in a YouTube video, just three months before it was set take effect.
“This is heartbreaking for our students,” Bishop John Barres said in the video announcement. “This decision is heartbreaking for their dear families, their dear parents. This decision is heartbreaking for our dedicated faculty, our dedicated staff, our principal and all who’ve been touched by the great experience of Catholic education at McGann-Mercy.”
Mercy parents and alumni were determined to save the school somehow, including possibly establishing it as an independent Catholic school. They mobilized via the Mercy High School Friends Facebook page, sharing memories of the school and encouraging those interested to get involved.
High school students who were not yet graduating and still wanted to receive a Catholic education would have had to transfer to St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip. Others were split up into their respective local public schools.
The diocese also announced that the East End’s Catholic elementary schools — Our Lady of Mercy in Cutchogue and St. Isidore in Riverhead — would be consolidated in the St. Isidore building, and the school would be renamed John Paul II Regional School.
Bishop Barres originally said the decisions were made “because of a number of factors, such as decreasing enrollment and some demographic changes.”
Photo caption: The last graduating class.