St. Matthias Catholic Academy Fighting Closure Threat with Community Support

Mohamed Farghaly

Principal Keri-Ann Wade-Donohue leads efforts to reverse declining enrollment and fundraising shortfalls, emphasizing the school’s legacy of academic excellence and Christian values.


The St. Matthias Catholic Academy in Ridgewood is facing a critical juncture in its 114-year history as financial woes threaten its existence. With the specter of closure looming over St. Matthias, the Ridgewood community rallies behind desperate efforts to stave off the shutdown of the cherished neighborhood institution.

The announcement of the school’s precarious financial situation earlier this month sent shockwaves through the tight-knit community, prompting parents and faculty to rally in a concerted effort to save the beloved institution. With a looming deadline in June, the academy’s fate hangs in the balance.

Established 114 years ago by the Sisters of Notre Dame, St. Matthias Catholic Academy has been an enduring fixture in Ridgewood, nurturing generations of students with a blend of academic excellence and timeless Christian values. However, recent years have seen a decline in enrollment, exacerbated by shifting demographics and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Principal Keri-Ann Wade-Donohue, alongside dedicated parents and faculty, spearheads a determined campaign to reverse the academy’s fortunes before it’s too late.

“Our academy has a long and storied history, we’ve been in Ridgewood for 114 years, we are part of the Brooklyn diocese,” Wade-Donohue said. “We’ve had a very good record and have made a huge impact in the neighborhood over the years.”

St. Matthias Catholic Academy holds a storied legacy within the Ridgewood community, boasting a tradition of academic excellence and a commitment to instilling Christian values. With a comprehensive curriculum spanning pre-K to 8th grade and innovative programs such as a hydroponics lab, the academy has long been a beacon of educational innovation.

Principal Wade-Donohue paints a stark picture of the academy’s plight, noting a sharp drop in enrollment from over 400 students a decade ago to a mere 152 presently.

“We really need to build that number in order to be sustainable,” she emphasizes, highlighting the urgent need to attract more students to secure the academy’s future.

Since then, the St. Matthias community has embarked on an intensive recruitment drive, aiming to enroll an additional 50 students within a two-week timeframe. Miraculously, enrollment has surged from 125 to 146, demonstrating the community’s dedication.

To complement enrollment efforts, a GoFundMe campaign and an alumni initiative have been launched. The alumni effort has garnered $57,000 in donations, while the GoFundMe has raised over $17,000. Despite these commendable strides, the academy remains far from its fundraising target.

Faced with an imminent closure decision, parents and faculty unite in a race against time to enroll an additional 50 children within what was a two-week window.

“We need to have an enrollment of 180 by next year and now we’re at 152, so we’re still gonna be short by 28 If we don’t pick up some student registrations this coming week,” Wade-Donohue said. “Also, the goal for the fundraising was $1 million and we are significantly short of that.”


Courtesy St. Matthias

The St. Matthias Catholic Academy in Ridgewood faces closure due to financial struggles, prompting a community-wide effort to save the institution, which has been a cornerstone of the neighborhood for 114 years.

In their battle for survival, St. Matthias Catholic Academy opens its doors wider, inviting interested families to explore enrollment opportunities.  Each new enrollment brings them one step closer to their goal and they are now offering families a $1,000 credit towards their first year’s tuition. Financial aid is also available, ensuring that St. Matthias is an option for anyone who is interested.

“We pride ourselves on traditional Christian values and a strong educational package,” Wade-Donohue asserts, underscoring the academy’s commitment to excellence.

Beyond the confines of parental involvement, the academy extends an appeal to the wider Ridgewood community for support. Through events like radio bingo and upcoming student performances, St. Matthias seeks to engage and mobilize community members in their fight to preserve a cherished institution.

Marek Mscisz, a parent of a seventh grade student at St. Mathias Catholic Academy, expressed his fervent support for keeping the school open. He emphasized the positive impact the school has had on his daughter and the community, highlighting its uniqueness and the strong bonds it fosters.

“The kids, you know, look forward to attending and love the school,” Mscisz said. “We believe in the importance of keeping this whole thing going and ensuring that the message is received. There isn’t going to be closure.”

He shared concerns about the disruption it would cause to his daughter’s education and lamented the prospect of having to relocate to another school as she is on the cusp of approaching the eighth grade and graduating amongst all of friends and known faculty members, the thought of uprooting to unfamiliar grounds dampens the excitement of her impending milestone.

Reflecting on the significance of their mission, Principal Wade-Donohue encapsulates the academy’s unwavering resolve.

“Not only is there a legacy behind St. Mathias, but we are a safe and solid educational institution that welcomes all and we are here,” Wade-Donohue said. “We are here to help and to serve and that is why it’s important that we stay open.”

As the clock ticks down, the fate of St. Matthias Catholic Academy hangs in the balance, its survival hinging on the collective efforts of a determined community unwilling to let go of a century-old legacy.

Parents interested in enrolling their children or providing  support to the academy, please reach out by calling (718) 381-8003, emailing, visiting the academy’s website at or donating at the GoFundMe at


Courtesy St. Matthias

Despite challenges, the community rallies behind the academy, with recruitment drives, fundraising campaigns, and appeals for support from both parents and the wider Ridgewood community.

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