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May 2, 2003


Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, expresses his sadness at the closure of Holy Spirit Parish Elementary School in Delaware County. Holy Spirit, located at 1028 School Street in Sharon Hill, will close in June 2003 after a recommendation for closure this year by the Holy Spirit School Study Committee due to dramatically decreasing enrollment which results in increasing costs per student. Cardinal Bevilacqua formally accepted the recommendation in April 2003.

"Holy Spirit Parish Elementary School has served the community well for more than 100 years and it will be missed. I am sensitive to the timing of this announcement and I am grateful for the support of parents and parishioners. It is sad and difficult when a school must close, yet I recognize the demographic changes that led the pastor and the School Study Committee to recommend the closure at the end of this school year. I am grateful to all of those who worked so hard to evaluate the resources of the school and I commend them for their dedication. I pray that all of the students of Holy Spirit School and their families will find comfort in their faith in God."

In November 2002, Holy Spirit Parish requested permission to conduct a feasibility study of the parish elementary school. In December 2002, Cardinal Bevilacqua granted that permission. In January 2003, the Holy Spirit School Study Committee determined the need to request permission to close Holy Spirit School in June 2003 after it reviewed demographic and financial projections and upcoming staff changes. The School Study Committee is made up of seventeen members including the pastor, principal, faculty, members of the Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Finance Council as well as parents whose children attend Holy Spirit School.

The projected enrollment for 2003-04 was 136 students, a decline of 37 students. Currently, there are only twelve students in the first grade. Many grades have less than fifteen students. The drastic decline in enrollment is due to the demographic change taking place in the parish at an accelerated rate. In January 2003, the Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, Reverend Martin E. Woodeshick, met individually with the twelve faculty members of the school who expressed that they would prefer to close the school in June 2003 rather than 2004. In February 2003, the School Study Committee held a meeting with school families that was positive and informative. The parents were very understanding of the facts and could see the need for the school to close, although they were disappointed and saddened.

Father Woodeshick announced the closure to his parish community at weekend masses (May 3 - 4) and to the school community today. Students will have the opportunity to attend any of the area Catholic schools including Saint George Parish, Glenolden; Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Darby; Saint Gabriel Parish, Norwood; Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Secane; Saint Eugene Parish, Primos and Saint Joseph Parish, Collingdale. All six parishes are within a three mile radius of Holy Spirit. No decisions have been made regarding the future of the school building.


Editor's Note: Attached please find the news release regarding specifics on the closure of Holy Spirit Parish Elementary School.

Donna Farrell
Broadcast and Media Specialist

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