Announcement about Notre Dame Academy

The end of the 27th psalm instructs us:
I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!

Let us pray. Lord our God, in every age, you have been our refuge.
Through joys and sorrows, challenges and triumphs,
You stand by us, coaxing us forward to do Your holy will.
Today, as we gather, we ask, as always, for the blessing of your peace.
Prosper all that we do to your glory.
And lead us all to eternal life, the fulfillment of all our hopes.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


For more than 175 years, through the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of hundreds of Catholic families and educators, this place, now Notre Dame Academy, and for so long, Cathedral Grade School, has been a blessed haven of Catholic education in the heart of the City of Belleville. Thousands have contributed to the success of this holy and beloved enterprise – parents and students, teachers and administrators, donors and parishioners, priests, School Sisters of Notre Dame, and many, many others. Their generosity and belief in the mission of this school has been a blessing to every student and family, to our parish, and to other parishes as well.

Everyone knows that Cathedral Grade School’s enrollment was shrinking for decades after its peak at over 1,000 students. We remember sadly the closing of the Academy of Notre Dame and the Cathedral High School. As St. Mary’s School faced the same dynamic, they merged with St. Augustine. And as that arrangement became less viable, that already-merged school merged again with Cathedral to form Notre Dame Academy in 2015. Each of these steps had at least one central goal in mind: to continue to make excellent Catholic education remain available to as many children and families as possible in the city.

So much devoted labor has gone into boosting enrollment, raising funds, building community, and ultimately, assuring a place for those seeking Catholic education. Still, the enrollment remains well below 100 students since 2017. Finding people with the vocation to serve as teachers in a Catholic school has become more difficult throughout the country. The population in our city continues to decline. Our buildings require more financial investment each year as they age. And most recently, the State of Illinois discontinued Empower Illinois, a relatively new tuition assistance program which benefited our school, especially those with financial need. The three parishes who sponsored the school from 2015 to 2022 have found it more and more challenging to gather the funds necessary to maintain the school’s budget.

Because of all this, and after much prayer and significant analysis of the school and parish budgets, the Cathedral parish is no longer capable of providing the necessary financial support the school requires. Our principal, Mrs. Linda Hobbs, and I met on January 11, 2024 to discuss the financial impossibility of continuing past the current school year, and I informed Bishop McGovern and Mr. Birdsong of our inability to support the school for another year on that day. Bishop McGovern has accepted these difficult facts and the resulting decision.

Faced with all these challenges, after heroically striving to change the course over the past several years, I am very sorry to say that Notre Dame Academy will close May 31, 2024.

St. Peter Cathedral Parish will continue its commitment to Catholic education by assisting families with placements for students in other area Catholic schools, identifying open positions for current staff members, and continuing to help sponsor the Parishes’ School of Religion.

While this announcement is certainly not the outcome any of us has worked for or wanted, even amid our sadness, we have plenty of reason to be grateful. Thank you, Mrs. Hobbs, for your excellent and devoted work in guiding the parish’s educational enterprise over the last many years. Thanks, also, to our dedicated faculty and staff members for their commitment to Catholic Education, to our many parishioners, benefactors, and volunteers who have always been essential to the school, and to our students and their families for allowing us to work with them in the education of children.

Fr. Godfrey Mullen, OSB
Cathedral Rector