The Children’s School, Oak Park, has called the St. Edmund School building home for the past five years. | Amaris E. Rodriguez

I’m writing in response to the article “The Children’s School faces an uncertain future” [News, March 8]. It is clear that the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the pastors of the combined Catholic parishes in Oak Park, Rev. Rex Pillai and Rev. Carl Morello, forgot to ask themselves a critical question: What would Jesus do?

The Children’s School (TCS) has leased property from the Archdiocese for over 16 years, first at St. Mary of Celle and then St. Edmund, and has been an exemplary tenant. TCS began contacting all parties in March 2022 to discuss the upcoming lease renewal, only to receive no response or to have the Archdiocese and the pastors defer to each other — until late January 2023, when they gave TCS five months to vacate the premises and find a new building for an entire school community, refusing to entertain any alternatives proposed by TCS to allow them to remain just until they had secured a new space for the school.

The Catholic Church, once again, isn’t practicing what it preaches. Instead, it is acting as a “slumlord” — in essence evicting TCS with no warning and no time to find alternative housing. And the building, which had come to life with the joyful sounds of children learning and growing, will sit idle, not serving the community in which it resides.

Romans 13:10 states, “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.” It seems the Archdiocese/pastors have forgotten this — as their actions are harming the students/parents, who will lose their beloved school; the teachers/staff, who will lose their jobs; and the entire community, which will lose a vital educational resource.

In a U.S. Catholic article from February 2019, Daniel Rhodes poses a relevant question when discussing the extensive yet underutilized real estate holdings of the Catholic Church: “What might it look like to move toward a new kind of institution, not one so structured on free-market privileged forms of property … but rather one using physical capital, especially neglected physical capital, to build real, tangible relationships with those living in its communities, Catholic and non-Catholic alike?”

What a novel idea, and one that would have allowed for collaborative problem-solving between the Archdiocese/pastors and TCS in finding a path forward that would do the least harm.

Instead, TCS is left with no options, and a real threat of closure, due to the lack of transparency, bureaucratic inefficiency, and total lack of professionalism exhibited by the Archdiocese, combined with the pass-the-buck attitude of the pastors.

So back to that critical question: What would Jesus do? Jesus would give TCS the time it needs to find an alternate space for its school, working in partnership with them to find a shared solution that would meet the maintenance needs in the short term until they have secured a new home.

Let’s hope the Archdiocese of Chicago, Rev. Rex Pillai, and Rev. Carl Morello remember who their true “boss” is and reconsider their decision.

Maureen Pulick Meyer of Oak Park is a TCS alumni parent.

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