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Manistee Catholic Central forced to close after failing to raise $2M

UPDATE 4/9/24 4:15 p.m.

MANISTEE — On Tuesday, the Diocese of Gaylord announced the closure of Manistee Catholic Central School at the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

On March 21, 2024, Bishop Jeffrey J. Walsh shared that the school needed $2 million to stay open another year. An additional 18 days were provided, but fundraising fell short of the goal before the deadline of April 8.


The diocese says donor can request their funds returned or keep them invested in the MCCS Foundation for future Catholic educational needs.

You can read Bishop Walsh’s full letter here.

3/22/24 6:20 p.m.

MANISTEE — A Catholic school in Northern Michigan may have to shut down at the end of the school year because of a massive shortfall in their budget.


The future of Manistee Catholic Central hangs in the balance. They need to come up with $2 million dollars before April 8 if they want to stay open past this school year.

The Diocese of Gaylord made the announcement Thursday. However, it’s not just next year that’s in question, but the years after.

Bishop Jeffrey Walsh announced the school needs to raise $2 million in order to stay open next year.

“Upon arrival this academic year, the MSC leadership team was faced with the daunting mess of a financial and organizational nature,” said Walsh.


The Manistee Catholic Central Foundation, a group that gives financial support to MCC is spearheading the fundraising efforts.

The foundation’s president, Dale Kowalkowski said what’s happened is an unfortunate circumstance.

“People should know that there wasn’t anything criminal done, but just a certain amount of incompetence that led to this,” said Kowalkowski.

Kowalkowski attributed the shortfall to missteps made by the previous business manager, who wasn’t forceful enough in collecting tuition and with enrollment being down at all schools in the area.


The foundation was already fundraising aggressively for next school year.

They raised $355,000 in just five weeks, with the addition of another donation Friday.

“We were pretty pleased with that. But again, we raised that now to $2 million from $1 million to $2 million. And just in two weeks, it’s going to be a challenge. And we didn’t expect that $2 million figure at all,” said Kowalkowski.

He said the bishop’s announcement has upped the ante and with not a lot of time.

“I don’t think we can do that in two weeks, to be totally honest about it. I believe that we should have had at least at least a month or two to do this. But again, it is what it is, and we have to live with it,” said Kowalkowski.

He said they plan to vigorously fundraise over the next two weeks and reach out for corporate support but knows how demanding that can be.

“It is going to be a challenge to explain to corporations why they should contribute for this year, if we don’t know for sure we’re going to be here next year,” said Kowalkowski.

The bishop warned Thursday even if they did get the funding for next year, they would need $2 million more the following year to keep the school operational.

Kowalkowski said it’s a tall order but it’s worth the effort.

“If we don’t make it, then we’ve put our best foot forward and did our best to try. And we can’t look back and say we didn’t do anything,” said Kowalkowski,

To watch Bishop Walsh’s full address, click here. To donate to the Manistee Catholic Central Foundation, please go here.

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