When schools open again this fall across the Sacramento Catholic Archdiocese, one of them will be as silent as it has been this summer-St. Joseph Catholic School on El Monte Avenue in North Sac. The reason given initially by the Archdiocese was a mold problem, but the real motivation for the closing is the rampant and increasing prostitution and drug activity in the area. While it is probably best for the safety of the young students who attend the school, it is not a good thing as far as what it says about the church and its mission as well as the response of city officials and the media.
In the approximate three years of his public ministry, Joshua ben Joseph(aka Jesus Christ) made it a point to preach and teach to the outcasts and the lowly and those who were the dregs of society(lepers, tax collectors, the poor, prostitutes, etc.). He was willing to face evil and not cower before it. It would make more sense for the Archdiocese to help the parish provide added security with assistance from the Sacramento Police Department so the school could remain open. The staff and parishioners of St. Josephs should be the leaders of the movement to reclaim and clean up the neighborhood, not to shutter the doors of the school. This is especially true if the local Church wants to follow the example of the recently elected Pontiff, Francis. The Church Parochial should follow the lead of the man who as Archbishop of Buenos Aires gave up the palatial residence that came with that office to the needy and lived in a simple apartment among the poor and working classes, dealing with all the attendant vices of the area.
A St. Josephs Parish staff member not authorized to speak on the record about the closing said, “It was a Diocesan decision.” Archdiocesan spokesman, Kevin Eckery, in response to inquiries, stated that the decision was made to offer “St Joseph students a more modern and cost-effective place(i.e. Saint Philomene’s School) to receive an education.” Mr. Eckery seemed more interested knowing who was this author’s source than in answering questions regarding the closing. He specifically asked if the source was an employee of the Archdiocese. This to my mind opens up many other interesting questions for another day.
What is even more disheartening is that there is nothing in the mainstream media who put such effort into the relatively unimportant campaign to keep a basketball team in Sacramento. One must wonder where the Mayor of the People, the Great Sac Savior, is on this issue. Perhaps he burned himself out in the hypermedia exercise to save the Kings and has no energy left to address the issue of those who are paupers!
Maybe the problem for the media and the mayor is that the work of cleaning up and developing the North Sac community is not sexy enough for television and the newspaper nor a politician looking considering higher office. It involves what are considered sensitive issues and would take an ongoing effort to fully address. There are few ‘feel good’ 10 second camera shots full of cheering crowds.
Also for Hizzoner and most of the rest of the city government, it is probably a matter of that the problem is far enough away from Downtown that they don’t care about it so much. It is not an issue which will affect the new Arena and the retention of the Kings nor the recruitment of additional sports teams such as the new professional soccer team and the possible re-establishment of WNBA basketball team in Sacramento. As long as the issue doesn’t spread into the downtown area and remains on the fringes of the city, life is good. City Council members seem to be looking more to their political futures than addressing hard issues and concerns faced by the average citizens of North Sac. After all, since the ascension of Hizzoner, more and more members of the City Council are just looking upon Council membership as a stepping stone to higher political office for themselves.