Private Schools

June 19, 1991 2 min read

Among the Roman Catholic schools that have closed their doors permanently following the current academic year are three high-school preparatory seminaries for young men.

Closing are the St. Vincent de Paul High School Seminary, in Lemont, Ill.; the St. Louis Preparatory Seminary; and the Divine Word Seminary in East Troy, Wis.

The closings leave no more than 12 such institutions in the United States, the Rev. Robert J. Wister, executive director of the seminary department of the National Catholic Educational Association, said last week.

Such seminaries have traditionally prepared many young men to go on to the Catholic priesthood. But as interest in religious vocations has waned over the past quarter-century, the number of these institutions has plummeted.

At one time, Father Wister said, there were probably more than 200 such precollegiate seminaries nationwide, with about 150 still in existence in 1965.

St. Vincent’s had an enrollment of just 39 students this year, while enrollment at the only remaining campus of St. Louis Prep Seminary was down to 88 students.

Just four years ago, more than 300 students attended two campuses of the St. Louis seminary.

Even among the students enrolled at such institutions, only a minority actually go on to study for the priesthood.

“This year we had no one going on,” said the Rev. Richard L. Stoltz, principal of the St. Louis school.

Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a major provider of health coverage in New York State, announced recently that it was dropping group coverage for more than 100,000 members of trade and professional associations--including the New York State Association of Independent Schools.

The insurer said it was dropping association policies because of rising expenses. According to Empire Blue Cross officials, many younger, healthier members of associations had other insurance options and could drop Blue Cross when premiums increased, leaving the company with a pool of older, less healthy members whose medical costs were higher.

The decision “wasn’t much of a problem, really, because we got a 30-day notice,” said Joseph Gosler, business manager of Friends Seminary, an independent school in New York City.

Mr. Gosler, who helps handle insurance matters for the private schools’ association, said he was able to find a suitable replacement insurance package from the Provident Life & Casualty Insurance Company.

Several hundred employees at nysais-member schools were Empire Blue Cross policyholders, he said.--mw

A version of this article appeared in the June 19, 1991 edition of Education Week as Private Schools