During the 19th and 20th century, the Massachusetts communities of Fitchburg, Leominster, and Gardner – known as the North County – attracted European and Canadian immigrants to its paper mills, furniture making, and plastics factories. With hard work these immigrants were assured of economic opportunity and a promising future.
In the response to their needs for integration, and as part of the Church's evangelical mission, numerous Catholic parishes built schools to educate children and pass on the Faith to their families. Parishes and schools were the religious and social center of the newcomers' lives, as they assimilated into the American Culture.
Since the opening of the first Catholic elementary school in Gardner in 1884, these schools have proudly forged independent identities as well as ethnic traditions and customs that have served the community well, providing a combined total of over 650 years of Catholic education for generations of North County children.
A Changing Environment
Today however, a slow economy in the cities of Fitchburg, Leominster and Gardner affects all families including our many new immigrants from Asian, African, Spanish speaking and other countries. Declining church attendance, school closings, and reorganization of parishes all lead to further difficulties.
Despite these and other challenges, we continue to move forward with our mission — to reach out and serve families who seek a faith-based education. The schools’ doors remain open, welcoming children from all economic circumstances and faith traditions.
To ensure the schools’ viability, the Catholic Schools Office, under the leadership of Bishop Robert McManus, engaged in a professional two-year strategic planning process which resulted in the establishment of the St. Paul Catholic Schools Consortium.
The Consortium is a separate 501(c)(3) non profit entity led by a volunteer board of directors who have expertise in theology, business, law, medicine, pastoral care, finance, marketing, and education. These professionals dedicate their time and knowledge to raise funds for the Catholic schools in North County.
The St. Paul Catholic Schools Consortium is the first of its kind in Massachusetts. The funds donated to the Consortium contribute to allowing the schools to expand program capacity; realize school improvement goals; serve a growing immigrant population; and remain competitive in a challenging environment. This innovative model will continue to ensure the quality and acceessibility of the North County Catholic schools for all students.
Our mission remains steadfast - to reach out and serve families who seek a faith-based education.