July 18, 2016 03:21 PM

[Editor’s Note: While we sympathize with this letter writer’s disappointment in the closing of Immaculate Heart of Mary School, we note that the decision-making process that led to the school’s closure occurred under former Bishop Michael Jarrell.]

Dear Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel,

This serves as a letter of disappointment.

The history of Black Catholics on the Northside of Lafayette reaches back decades. African Americans have been Catholics since the earliest of days. We’ve been a part of the Church since the beginning. We’re not newcomers to the Catholic Church. However, the Diocese of Lafayette has not escaped its history of racism and segregation — a history that has made many Black Catholics on the Northside of Lafayette feel unwelcome. I’m a graduate of Immaculate Heart of Mary School and Holy Rosary Institute.

By this letter, I will also clarify my view of your plan to destroy Black Catholic education. First, it is my belief that you do not understand what it means to be a Black Catholic. Therefore, you don’t understand the importance of having a Black Catholic education. Second, in order for your other “Catholic” schools to survive, you need more kids. Those sports programs that want to win games need those “certain” kids to dunk the ball and run that football.

In summary, it is a slap in the face to pony out your campaign to raise $42.5 million when there was a school in your diocese that needed a little help. The school needed more than just financial help. It needed direction. But you saw the opportunity to “scratch” one more off of your list. I’m very critical of the current leaders at Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the end it always falls in your lap to decide.

I don’t expect this letter to reach your desk, so I’m copying it to all news and media outlets. I would be happy to meet with you to discuss.

Sincerely yours,

Paul Senegal Jr.

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