While it may sound like a cliche, dozens of families quite literally had their prayers answered when the Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced it would reverse its decision to close Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy in East Moline.

Families received emails on Tuesday – right in the middle of Holy Week for the Catholic Church – that said the school will reopen for the 2022-23 school year. The letter arrived in many families’ mailboxes just days after they received a different letter that said the school would close for good at the end of the school year.

“Me and my husband, every day we prayed on it,” said Lauren Garcia, whose two children attend Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy.

The original news that the school was going to close put some parents in a frenzy last Friday. Many scrambled to figure things out.

“Up until probably this time yesterday, we were online looking at houses to move,” Garcia said. “Like, we’re thinking we have to make drastic decisions very quickly, and it was very stressful. We weren’t getting any sleep.”

Parents were faced with two options: Either send their children to one of the other Catholic schools – Jordan Catholic School in Rock Island or Seton Catholic School in Moline – in the vicariate next year, or go somewhere else entirely.

“We were thinking we’re going to have to send our kids to Seton,” Garcia said. “We live in Silvis. We were trying to figure out how that’s going to work.”

Now many parents are thrilled to see the school remain open.

“We’ve been on a roller coaster,” said Clifton Vanwinkle, a parent with children who have attended the school for the past six years. “Now we’re going up to be very, very happy, instead of going down and very, very sad.”

On top of that, the Catholic Church for many of these families is right across the street from the school. And many have grown to love the school itself.

“There’s no other school like Our Lady of Grace,” Vanwinkle said.

Some parents have taken the time to thank the Diocese for changing its mind.