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Industry Insights

Faith? I lost mine last week. (The business decision that's making one man leave the Catholic Church)

By ,
Robert Zito, of Zito Partners in Warren.
Robert Zito, of Zito Partners in Warren. - ()

I was speaking with a good friend about the Catholic Church. He's left it. I'm right behind him.

He and his wife gave up when his local parish kept asking for money, and they saw no improvements in their church … the school … or their programs.

Turns out the money was going to settlements the Church had made with victims of abuse by priests.

Then last week the Archdiocese of Newark decided to shut St. Anthony High School in Jersey City.

All St. Anthony’s has done since the 1950’s is provide a great education for students who otherwise can’t afford one … sent all of its students to college for the past 20 years … and been built on the backs of my good friends, Bob and Chris Hurley. Yes, the school and Bob have become legendary in high school basketball circles. But this school is about much, much more than basketball.

Those kids in that accompanying picture are students of St. Anthony High School. Great students. Students who came to a scholarship dinner last week … worked the crowd as well as any high school student I’ve met … and made the people in attendance ask how they can help.

The Archdiocese wanted St. Anthony to have $500,000 in the bank before next school year, and then said it needed the school to increase its enrollment. With stories circulating for a year that the school might be forced to close, how many parents were willing to take the chance to enroll their children in a school that might not be there? That was a clever political ploy by the powers that be in the Archdiocese – powers that wanted St. Anthony shut … but knew the Bob Hurley legend made it a public relations nightmare.

The $500,000 is an interesting number. It matches the cost of the addition on the home of the diocese’s recently retired Archbishop. And by the way. That’s a home with a market value of more than $1.5 million. He lives there alone.

So what’s more important? An addition with an indoor swimming pool for the retired leader of the Newark Archdiocese? Or a great school for kids who truly need an opportunity in life?

It would appear Newark never got the directive from Pope Francis about taking care of the flock first.

On Bloomberg this week, Joe Nocera wrote the best piece about the issue I had the chance to read.

It’s a view reiterated to me by the Athletic Director at another Catholic High School. Schools need to realize they have to be run as if they are businesses.

But as Nocera points out, the Archdiocese should have been helping Bob Hurley and St. Anthony’s do that. They – when you look at corporate America – are the “corporate entity.”

I wish – for all those great students at St. Anthony High School – that the Pope would take this one personally. The Newark Catholic braintrust has put money … and politics … ahead of the well-being of hundreds of students.

I can’t agree with their decision. And that has me disgusted with the Newark Archdiocese leadership…and therefore, the Catholic church.

Forgive me, Lord, but this one is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

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Emily B. April 17, 2017 2:51 pm

Hi Peter,

This is an article submitted by an industry expert on our editorial blog page (Industry Insights). I hope that clears up your question. Thanks so much for reading NJBIZ!

Emily B. -- NJBIZ Web Editor

Peter Rasmusson April 12, 2017 2:26 pm

I thought NJBIZ was about business in N.J. What has this article got to do with business? Please direct the opinion pieces to the op/ed page. Thank you.

Mary Nasta April 17, 2017 12:00 pm

I agree with you that the diocese' policy of fundraising to pay settlements is terrible. A $1.5 million house for a retired bishop from diocesan funds is terrible also. Leaving the Church is not the answer because we are the Church. We need to tell the administrators who have forgotten their mission: change the way you are doing things. They have superiors also, complain to them. And every check has a memo space in which to write: not to be used for the payment of lawsuit settlements. The Church has weathered worse than this.