By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
MOBILE — After serving the Tillman’s Corner community of Mobile for more than 40 years, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School will close at the end of this school year.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish Pastor Fr. Stephen Vrazel and principal Corinne Cuffle made the announcement March 24.
The school opened its doors Aug. 30, 1976, with just a kindergarten class of 24 students and added one grade each year for the following eight years.
But there have been recent challenges. A flash fire in December 2017 closed the main building of the school until September 2018. The school also eliminated grades 6-8 prior to the 2019-2020 school year. The school has 74 students enrolled this year as well as eight classroom teachers and other faculty members.
“I am truly in admiration of both Fr. Vrazel and Mrs. Cuffle for their masterful attempt in leadership to rebrand St. Vincent School,” Archdiocese of Mobile Superintendent of Catholic Schools Gwen Byrd said. “They uplifted their students using the updated STREAM focused curriculum and it was a joy to watch their students at work in class.”
The school and parish community used the slogan “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” in recent years as a rebranding effort and motivational tool.
“That was a good rallying cry,” Fr. Vrazel said during his homily on March 25, which aired on Facebook. “That was something that really got everybody on board. … I want to thank everybody who didn’t stop believing. (I want to thank) our faculty who did amazing things, this year especially. We have a lot to be thankful for, despite the bad news.”
While the announcement of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School’s closing comes at a difficult time as parishes are not celebrating public Masses and students are taking part in “distance learning” due to COVID-19, Fr. Vrazel stressed to everyone to keep the faith and “Don’t Stop Believin’. ”
“It’s what matters the most now,” he said.
“What’s been behind this is a reminder for you and me to keep the faith. Even without the school closing, it’s still a helpful thing for us right now when we feel distant from the Church, separate from one another, separate from Jesus maybe. But don’t stop believing He’s there. He’s with you and He’s never going to abandon you, even in the darkest time – even when we have to say goodbye to something we all love so much.”