Mother of Mercy, McAuley high schools to combine in 2018

Declining enrollment cited

CINCINNATI – Two all-girls Catholic high schools with 160 years of history are combining due to declining enrollment, according to the religious order that sponsors the schools.

Mother of Mercy and McAuley will form Mercy McAuley High beginning in the fall of 2018, the Sisters of Mercy announced on their website Thursday. The new school will operate at McAuley’s current campus on Oakwood Avenue in College Hill.

The two schools will continue to operate separately through the 2017-2018 school year.

“These days, we find ourselves facing a shifting reality in our high schools here,” said Sister Jane Hotstream, president of the Sisters of Mercy – South Central Community. “A declining pool of potential students is impacting enrollment now and will continue to do so in the future. This is a situation affecting Catholic schools nationwide, as well as here in Cincinnati.”

The two schools have  a combined enrollment of 963 - 495 at Mother of Mercy in Westwood and 468 at McAuley.

“Our primary concern in making this decision is the well-being of the young women we serve, and our goal is to offer affordable and sustainable Catholic, Mercy education to our current students and future generations," Sister Jane said. "A healthy enrollment provides a solid platform for making that vision a reality by creating opportunities for expansion of curriculum and activities for years to come.”

The Sisters of Mercy, who sponsor the schools, made the decision to combine them, a release said. Sisters met with the faculties and staffs at each school and then with students Thursday to deliver the news. Parents and other key constituents will be informed by letter. 

Parents, students, faculty and others will have three opportunities to share questions and comments:

• Face-to-face meetings with parents and students according to grade level beginning Monday, March 6, at each school.

• The Mercy McAuley Hotline staffed by Cincinnati Sisters of Mercy. The number is 513-354-5054 and will operate Frida., March 3, as well as Monday., March 6 through Friday, March 10, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• An email box, MercyMcAuleyHS@mercysc.org, where people may leave questions or comments 24 hours a day, starting immediately.

Planning for Mercy McAuley High School already is under way and will be led by a transition committee chaired by Tom Otten, retired principal of Elder High School. Joining him are:

• Cindy Costello, assistant director of the Ministry Office of the Sisters of Mercy;

• Denise Krueger, McAuley graduate and math and science professor at Mount St. Joseph University;

• Wayne Morse, retired Procter & Gamble executive who most recently worked in the school office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Mother of Mercy was established in 1915. More than half its students earn college credits by graduation, with 25 percent starting college as second-semester freshmen, according to the release. The Leading Scholars Honor Program allows select ninth and 10th graders to supplement their coursework. 

McAuley opened in 1960. Rooted in the ideals of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, the school has been designated a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Its  “Women In”  program offers experiences in medicine, law, technology and engineering.

 “We recognize this change is difficult and emotional for the communities of Mother of Mercy and of McAuley, and we understand that everyone who loves these schools - especially the girls - will need our understanding and support in the days and weeks to come,” said Sister Jane.

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