Bishop James P. Powers blesses Kellen Kranig after the closing Mass Friday, May 26. (Photo courtesy Steve Tarnowski)

After 95 years of providing Catholic education to the Park Falls community, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Parish closed its school doors June 2.

On May 26, Bishop James P. Powers presided over a closing Mass with students, teachers, parents and parish members.

“In general, it’s hard to believe that something happened like this, that it’s closed,” said Karla Bluedorn, one of two teachers who led the school in the 2016-17 year in lieu of a principal.

This is an emotional time, Bluedorn said. Despite generous donations from parish and community members, the school could not raise the $1 million needed to overcome aging infrastructure, declining enrollment, debt and other financial troubles.

Fr. Shaji Pazhukkathara, parochial administrator of the school and parishes in Butternut, Fifield and Park Falls, launched a financial campaign in an effort to close the funding gap, but the numbers fell short.

When the closing was announced in February, parish council and committee members vowed to use the 2017-18 year for reorganization. Bluedorn, who will not be involved in the process, believes they will work hard to solve some funding problems, “and hopefully start from the ground up again.”