ST. LOUIS – The Archdiocese of St. Louis revealed Tuesday that it will postpone changes to Catholic elementary schools until the 2024–25 school year.

The archdiocese oversees 85 elementary schools tied to their parishes within St. Louis County and 10 nearby counties.

It means the changes to come could affect around 19,000 elementary students.

“When I heard it, it was kind of a sigh of relief, but yet you still know it could still be on the chopping block, we’d like a final answer,” said Sandy Suter, a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Church.

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Sandy Suter has lived across from St. Francis of Assisi Church and Elementary school in St. Louis County since 1974.

Her husband’s family helped build both buildings. She also helps run the fish fry.

“We lost a granddaughter at 10 years old, and if it weren’t for St. Francis priests and what have it, I don’t know if I would have made it through it,” Suter said. “They’re just always so there when you need it.”

With more than 250 students, it is unlikely St. Francis of Assisi Church and Elementary School would close, but the uncertainty is what concerns some.

There have been 150 meetings in addition to surveys so far.

“I kind of feel like a lot of these meetings are just to appease a lot of us and let us be heard,” said Susan Shemen. “But I do believe a lot of the higher-ups already know.”

Shemen has a granddaughter at one of the elementary schools, and she raised her kids in the church.

She appreciates the tight-knit community and worries it will be lost.

“Our concern that if we make draconian cuts first without really understanding how that’s going to help us evangelize that they will do more harm than good in driving people away from the church.”

In a statement, Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski said, “Once the new parish landscape is announced in May of 2023, the Archdiocese of St. Louis will work with our parish and school communities to discern what our parish schools should look like since they rely heavily on parish support.”

Although the effects will not be felt until the 2024–2025 school year, the archbishop does recognize that they will respond to issues if they arise, and that may include school closures if necessary.