Queen of Peace: A heaping slice of mess

It was almost a month ago, when Rev. Mike Donovan, Queen of Peace High School’s new president and pastor of the QP Parish for a little more than a month, made a heartfelt plea to the general public, stating that they needed $1 million before July 1 to keep the school’s doors open.

And in that time, a lot of people have stepped up to the plate and opened their hearts and checkbooks to try to keep the school open. The outpouring of love has been staggering, especially two alumni who now reside deep in the heart of Texas.

For example, Jeannette Cerna, a nurse practitioner and business owner now residing in Katy, Texas, committed $200,000 to support “both the school’s immediate needs and ensure its long-term success,” according to a press conference issued by the troubled school.

Cerna is a member of the QP Class of 1980.

Tom Klein, another QP alum and CEO of travel-industry software giant Sabre Corporation in Southlake, Texas, pledged $250,000 to keep the school afloat.

Klein’s pledge had a stipulation: The campaign drive had to reach $850,000, then Klein would kick in the $150,000 to push the total over $1 million. The rest of the allotted funding from Klein and Sabre would be in the formation of a foundation.

This was all done after the Archdiocese of Newark made the ludicrous demand, giving school officials until the end of June to reach the necessary fund total. The Archdiocese apparently conducted a private audit last year and found that QP’s spending totals were out of control in their eyes _ thus putting the demands into place.

Basically, QP’s leaders had to shut up and put up.

Notice how all of these dire financial troubles and demands from the Archdiocese come on the heels of Monsignor William Fadrowski’s retirement as pastor of the parish and president of the high school. Fadrowski retires in May, the Archdiocese makes the finding and the school is going to close unless people come up with $1 million in 30 days.

That puts the Archbishop’s Appeal envelopes to shame.

The school planned a “Defend The Alamo” fundraiser on the night before the school’s unofficial closing date, hoping to get the additional $250,000 or so needed to keep the doors open.

Needless to say, it has created a complete mess at a school that has certainly had its share of messy moments over the last decade. The way the school has handled everything about its possible demise is no surprise.

From an athletic standpoint, it’s downright insane. How in the world can anyone expect the existing athletes and coaches to remain at a school with so many question marks and so much doubt?

There’s no guarantee that the school sees August, but yet, the administration wants everyone to act and react like nothing is wrong.

So the students are asked to stand pat, the teachers and coaches are instructed to remain where they are _ and yet, there are no answers, except for a host of different fundraisers that legitimately should have been in place and operational years ago.

It has taken complete and utter distress to have people put their pennies together and raise their hands towards God and Queen of Peace High School.

Well, what happens the next time? Even if they get the $1 million to keep the doors open now, what happens the next time there’s a crisis? And then the next?

One of the main coaches has already pulled up stakes and is headed elsewhere _ and he’s one of their own.
Christian Boyce, who grew up as part of Queen of Peace since practically infancy, who went to QP Grammar School through high school, was a great athlete at the school and later became the head boys’ basketball coach and administrator, resigned, effective Friday.

Boyce handed in his letter of resignation last week, amidst reports that he did not have a good working relationship with athletic director Rebecca Conroy or school principal John Tonero.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” Boyce said. “When you’re alumnus of the school and you’ve been given the opportunity to give back, then this happens, it’s extremely disappointing. I put a lot into that program and a lot into that school. They had a part-time athletic director who had no coaching experience giving the gym to seven cheerleaders. You can’t run a successful athletic program like that.”

Boyce said that he was disappointed by the school’s approach to his team last season.

“Jeremy Joseph broke the school’s all-time scoring record and there was no representation,” Boyce said. “We had Senior Night and there was no one from the school at the game. We were the only school who did not have representation at the NJSIAA Scholar/Athlete dinner. How can that happen? That’s why I decided it was time for me to go.”

So does Boyce believe that the school is history?

“I don’t know if they’re going to be able to get kids into the building,” Boyce said. “You have people who rely on QP as their main job and it’s unfair to them. They’re going to have to lay people off regardless. They’re still going to need more money even after what they’ve raised.”

Boyce said that he’s sure other coaches are going to follow suit and step away because of the uncertainty.

“How can you tell kids that they have to stay until July 15, but you don’t know if you’re going to stay open?” Boyce said. “If they’re going to get families to trust them that they’re going to stay open, who knows?”

Boyce was asked if the school remains open past July 1, namely Friday.

“I think it will be open on Friday,” Boyce said. “I think it could be open for a little while. I just don’t think they’ll have enough students to stay open past that. I think that they have to tell the students that they have to do whatever they have to do.”

It’s a tough call, but if I had a child who was enrolled at QP for the fall, I would seriously start to look elsewhere. However, the Archdiocese won’t allow a transfer from QP to another Parochial school, so the Archdiocese is basically encouraging their students to take the public school route.

That’s what it has come down to and unfortunately, it’s going to mean the death of another Parochial school’s athletic program and storied tradition.

However, in recent years, it’s been a tradition of unrest and turmoil more than it has been one of success.

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”