An all-girls Catholic high school in Portland, Maine, will end its religious affiliation and become an independent school in 2016.
Catherine McAuley High School, the only single-gender college-preparatory school in Maine, announced that it will sever ties with the Sisters of Mercy, the order of nuns that founded the school in 1969. About 150 girls attend the school.
Heidi Osborn, McAuley Board Chair, and Sister Jacqueline Marie Kieslich, president of the Northeast Community of the Sisters of Mercy, issued a joint statement about the change:
“To best realize their vision and mission, institutions must evolve with the times. Together, McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy have concluded that the school can best continue to serve its students by ending our historical affiliation.”
Kathryn Woodson Barr, Head of School, stated: “We will continue to provide a foundation of ethical and moral values. McAuley will remain on its historic campus and continue to embrace the traditions and events that make the educational experience unique and memorable for all young women.”
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland said it was saddened to learn about the change in McAuley's status.
"We regret the loss of a Catholic school in our diocese," Bishop Robert Deeley says. "Since founding the school in 1969, the Sisters of Mercy have welcomed thousands of girls into their classrooms, providing each student with an outstanding education and an understanding of how best to serve God and one another."
Deeley noted that there are two other high schools in the diocese where students can receive a Catholic-based education--Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn and Cheverus High School in Portland.
The end to religious affiliation comes as the school explores a partnership with the University of New England that would enable McAuley students the opportunity to obtain college credit for certain McAuley courses.
The school also has redefined its commitment to STEM education so it can lead women greater success in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields.