Rural catholic parishes to consolidate in Platte County, address teacher, priest shortages
HUMPHREY/LINDSAY, Neb. — Earlier this year, the Archdiocese of Omaha planned to consolidate two Platte County schools: Humphrey St. Francis and Lindsay Holy Family.
Director of Communications of the Archdiocese of Omaha Riley Johnson said a number of reasons contributed to the decision from Archbishop George Lucas.
“We know, and everybody who lives in rural Nebraska and also in urban Nebraska knows, that there’s been lots of large migration to cities," Johnson said. "There’s also been a huge teacher shortage in the state that public and private schools are dealing with.”
Johnson said priest shortages and declining mass attendance also play a role in the decision.
In a letter from the diocese on May 22, three plans were presented to the families in both parishes: Holy Family joining St. Francis with the same name and branding, Holy Family joining St. Francis at a new school with a new name and branding, or both parishes combining resources to satisfy members of both communities.
Ongoing meetings are being held to determine the best option and the chosen option will be presented to Archbishop Lucas.
Johnson said answering one question is the most important part of the consolidation.
“What’s the best way for a family of parishes, like this family of parishes to work together in a way that achieves their goal of offering the best, quality, Catholic education they can?” Johnson said.
The consolidation plans to combine grades 7-12 of both Holy Family and St. Francis.
Johnson said the two schools only being separated by 12 miles makes the situation unique for the diocese.
“The Catholic schools office is really focused on trying to make sure our Catholic schools are equipped… Maintain that accreditation that is so vital," Johnson said.
After presenting the plan to Archbishop Lucas on Dec. 1, 2023, plans to implement the consolidation is set for the 2025-26 school year.