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Candlelight vigil aims to save Mount Assisi

Supporters Mount Assisi Academy Lemont held vigil Monday night Feb. 3 2014. The school is scheduled close. | Jaime Angio~For

Supporters of Mount Assisi Academy in Lemont held a vigil on Monday night, Feb. 3, 2014. The school is scheduled to close. | Jaime Angio~For Sun-Times Media.

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Updated: March 5, 2014 6:26AM



More than 100 students, alumnae, friends and family of Mount Assisi Academy in Lemont held a vigil on the front steps of the school Monday night to try to rally support for keeping the all-girls high school open.

Their message was that the Mount Assisi community is an extended and close family, one that they don’t want to see torn apart.

“Now I have to find a new school, and all my friends will be leaving and I love this school. The school has made a big impact on me, it can’t close,” said Abby Maloy, 15, of Bedford Park, a sophomore at the Catholic school, 13860 Main St.

She was not alone in her feelings. Those attending the vigil lit candles, said prayers, chanted and spoke of their love for the school and how devastating it would be to see it close.

The order of nuns that owns and runs the school, the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King, announced last week that falling enrollment had created financial problems too great to overcome and the school would close at the end of the current school year in June.

Mount Assisi was established in 1951 and has been at its current site since 1955.

Enrollment has dropped from 315 seven years ago to 143 today, creating rising debt that the order can no longer carry, the order said.

Peggy Healy, 49, of Chicago’s Beverly community, is president of the parents association at Mount Assisi Academy, and she hopes the school officials will keep an open mind on ways to keep it open.

“We’re having a vigil out here celebrating Mount Assisi Academy but also trying to get the school not to close,” Healy said.

“The school has been a blessing for my daughter, who had self-esteem problems before she came here. What we’re trying to do is show the support for the school.

“It’s a wonderful place, and what we’re trying to show how much it does mean to people, and ... that there are different ways to keep it open. We would like the school (officials) to keep an open mind and let us just try.”

Some parents and alumnae are working to raise money for the school. The school has held several fundraisers and tried to recruit more students in the past couple of years, but the hope is that the threat of closing will spur more to donate.

Kristi Coughlin, 44, of Justice, is the mother of Mount Assisi sophomore, Taylor Coughlin, and said she would do whatever it takes to keep the school open. People were signing petitions Monday night to keep the school open.

“I’m out here so we can show everybody that we want to keep Mount Assisi open, if they let us, if they give us a chance,” Coughlin said. “We’re out here, and we’re going to stay out here and rally.”

Debbie Wlodarski, of Tinley Park, a 1979 graduate of Mount Assisi, said she hoped that God would answer their prayers.

“I’m out here just to show the support and love for the students, parents, staff, nuns and alumni,” Wlodarski said.

“I’m just thinking that God watches out for all of us and blesses us in this difficult time in transition. ... Maybe something positive will come up and get some students that will commit to (attend the school) to keep the school open.”



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