The Crusader Newspaper Group

Parents scramble after Holy Angels closes

By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader

For the second time this school year a Chicago Catholic grammar school had to be closed due to infrastructure problems. This time it is Holy Angels, a 129-year-old school in Bronzeville, located at 740 E. 40th St. Parents of current students, which includes students from St. Elizabeth’s, were notified this week the school would be closed all week due to building issues that were being investigated. In August, the Archdiocese of Chicago closed St. Elizabeth due to lead paint and transferred many of their students to Holy Angels.

A grandparent of a St. Elizabeth student, who did not want to be identified, said parents were told earlier this week there was “some sort” of a mechanical issue at Holy Angels that was putting “impurities in the air.” The Crusader visited the school on Monday, March 9. A sign on the school doors read “Stop No Entry” and that the school is closed. No one answered the door. A reporter from the Crusader observed construction workers inside the building and large plastic coverings hanging everywhere. There was also a single window open, sealed with plastic and tape that was allowing for air particles to be blown outside the building.

Crusader was able to reach a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago. They said they were unaware that the building was closed and that they would get back to the Crusader with more details. At deadline on Wednesday, no more information was available.

Back in August, a letter from the Archdiocese of Chicago to the Holy Angels Community said there were “serious building safety issues” at St. Elizabeth School, located at 4052 S. Wabash. The letter also said that parents of St. Elizabeth students were being encouraged to send their children to Holy Angels where their needs would be accommodated.

“We are committed to having a strong, Catholic education presence on the near south side and, after investigating alternatives, we have decided to combine St. Elizabeth with Holy Angels School for the coming academic year,” the letter reads. “This will allow students and families to spend an uninterrupted year at Holy Angels.”

As a result of the Archdiocese’s decision, Dr. Siobhan Cafferty, originally hired as the principal for St. Elizabeth, became the new principal of Holy Angels. A note from Dr. Cafferty is taped on the doors at Holy Angels apologizing to parents for the latest inconvenience and saying the matter was being investigated.

Spring break for Holy Angels students is not scheduled for another two weeks. It is not known how the disruption in the school schedule will affect the rest of the year’s academic calendar.

Holy Angels was once one of the most prestigious Black Catholic schools in the country when it was under the leadership of Father George Clements. A human and Civil Rights activist, Clements garnered national attention when a made-for-television movie was made about him in 1987 and aired on NBC.

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