Coreil voices his opinion on what church needs to do to fix issues at Sacred Heart
Dear Bishop Jarrell,
It is with a heavy and saddened heart that I write this letter to you. As a practicing Catholic and a lifelong supporter of Sacred Heart School, I am now witnessing the potential end of an era in our community that has survived for over seven decades.
Because of Sacred Heart School, alumni often move back to your community so their children could receive the same good Catholic education they experienced. Now, the young people in our community, including many graduating seniors, say they would never send their children to Sacred Heart School, all because of the present administrator.
My parents graduated from Sacred Heart in the late 1940s. My wife and I graduated in the mid 60s and our children after that.
The school is now on the brink of extinction. This is similar to your recent closing of a Catholic school in St. Martinville. The issues facing Sacred Heart School could have been prevented had it been addressed sooner.
Over three years ago, the pastor at Sacred Heart Church was confronted with the numerous issues parents and teachers had with the administrator of the Sacred Heart School. It was not addressed and he moved on. The new pastor, Father Guillory, was immediately confronted with the situation and he assured me personally that within one year, that he would have the matter corrected. Nothing was done. He then left to go to Rome, but in his transition, he indoctrinated the incoming pastor with the notion that we were only “trouble makers” that were complaining about the administrator at Sacred Heart School. We were identified by name.
Therefore, our new and present pastor arrived in our church parish with a “mindset” that he should not listen to those being critical of the administrator. Even though those “trouble makers” have been the backbone and financial supporters of Sacred Heart School.
I believe the information provided to you by the administrator and pastor has not been based on all that was actually happening, but instead it was based on misconceptions, deceptions and her outright lies.
The result has been procrastination by each pastor and the diocese in addressing a very severe issue, which is very important not only to Sacred Heart School, but to the entire community surrounding the Ville Platte area, which it serves. I plead that you listen and hear the people who are addressing you from their hearts, and not from those few supporters bent on the demise of Sacred Heart School.
Most of the outraged parents and grandparents do not understand that democracy plays no part in the operations of a Catholic school. It is a dictatorship. The pastors have full authority over all final decisions of the school. Appeals can be made only to you as bishop of the diocese. Often, these appeals are referred to the superintendent of schools of the diocese or a committee of the diocesan school board, never a “Blue Ribbon Committee.”
When you were pastor at Sacred Heart Church, there was a functioning school board elected by the parents of the school and generally you took their advice and made decisions based on their input.
Our present pastor disbanded the elected Sacred Heart School Board. When he attempted to appoint a new school board, who would agree with him on all matters, he could only find three people willing to serve.
Sacred Heart School often excels in football and baseball and participates in other sporting activities. Sad to say, the Sacred Heart Booster Club has now been dissolved. Only 17 students showed up for spring football.
The good coaches have quit and she just appointed a new athletic director who has only one year of experience. Rob Soileau, who is the son of Coach Bobby Soileau, was the athletic director. However, the administrator saw fit to discharge him from his position. In addition to that, she intimidated him by virtually escorting him out of the school. How sad!
An honor student was kicked out of Sacred Heart because her mother posted negative comments on Facebook. The student recently graduated with honors at another Catholic school.
Recently, one of the finest high school math teachers that Sacred Heart has ever had was refused a renewal contract. She had to have surgery and asked for an adjustment on her schedule. The administrator felt there was no room for her, despite her many years of dedication to the school.
When this math teacher was forced to leave, she appealed to our pastor. The response from our pastor was that he had relinquished his authority to the administrator and therefore there was nothing he could do. False!
You see, your excellency, this administrator has managed to force out over 85 teachers and personnel during the past five-and-a-half years. Many of those teachers had 20 to 30 years at Sacred Heart. These teachers produced many doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers and other professionals throughout the state.
Her philosophy has been that if the teachers, students and parents really like a principal or a teacher, then that person has to go. You have letters in your possession which substantiate this claim.
There are many, many more such stories to be told. However, this “Blue Ribbon Committee” to be selected by you may be a little too late. This issue has been festering for three years and the breaking point has arrived. Please either take action now or the school may be lost forever.
Some outside the Sacred Heart Community will not be saddened if the school does collapse. In fact, there are always those who want to see a rival school hurting or eliminated. It happens. Good does not always succeed over evil. Look at ISIS. However, those dedicated to Sacred Heart School will fight to the end.
I know that you are to retire soon. I also know that pastors are assigned to a church, stay a few years and leave. When they leave or retire, they no longer have to deal with the problems left behind. Unfortunately, those of us who live in the community are left to face the consequences of the problems left behind.
I call upon you because you have the authority to address this issue immediately. I know this, having served on the School Board for the Diocese of Lafayette for two terms (eight years), as past president of the Sacred Heart Booster Club, as past president of the Sacred Heart School Board, as a member of the Sacred Heart Foundation and a former member of the Sacred Heart Church.
I, along with many others, have left Sacred Heart Church Parish and gone to other Catholic parishes because of this situation. When our pastor was confronted with parishioners leaving Sacred Heart, the response of the pastor has been “They’ll come back.” I don’t think so.
To give you an example of how the community feels, I would like to share with you two of many instances experienced recently.
I received a letter from a “Come Lord Jesus” group. They wrote a two page letter to me asking how Father Jason could let things get to this point. They asked that he prepare a weekend homily “explaining how Jesus would deal with a dictator and a bully when they take the form of a priest and principal.”
I also received a telephone call from a past principal at Sacred Heart School who served the school for seven years. In the seven years as principal, he never fired one teacher and only lost three teachers. One retired, another moved away and another made the decision to go to another profession. Sacred Heart School has lost 85 teachers and personnel in five years. Does that raise a “red flag” that there is a problem?
The administrator at Sacred Heart has a full retirement from the public school system where she graduated. She does not need the job. However, it is beyond my imagination how a person would want to stay in her position unless there is an ulterior motive. We all know what that motive is. Just because the administrator denies such a motive does not mean it is not so. The ultimate goal is to destroy the school in retaliation for something that happened several years ago when her son was expelled. And she is now succeeding.
The purpose of this letter is to call upon you to take immediate action by forcing the immediate dismissal of the administrator at Sacred Heart, re-establishing the elected Sacred Heart School Board (or advisory board), re-writing the authority, duties and obligations of a Sacred Heart principal (not administrator) and to help us rebuild the faith and character of the Sacred Heart School that you and I knew when you were here as pastor.
We often hear “What would Jesus do?’ In my heart and soul, I am certain her dismissal is what he would do, just as Jesus cast out the money changers from the temple.
I sincerely pray that Jesus Christ will help you see the truth and direct you in this difficult decision.
A Sacred Heart supporter,
C. Brent Coreil