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January 12, 2004


Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, has approved the recommendations to close two parish elementary schools in two separate clusters. In one of the clusters, a new Area Catholic School will be established. The Cardinal also accepted the recommendation to consolidate three parishes to form one new parish. In accepting the recommendation to consolidate parishes, a review by the Council of Priests is required before final approval is considered.

Philadelphia-North Vicariate
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish Elementary School in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia (Cluster 18) will close effective July 1, 2004 as a result of the recommendation of the Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish Steering Committee.

Philadelphia-South Vicariate
Saints Clement-Irenaeus School in Southwest Philadelphia (Cluster 33) will close and an Area Catholic School with a new name will be established at what is currently Saint Barnabas Parish Elementary School effective July 1, 2004 as a result of a recommendation of the Cluster 33 Advisory Council.

Also as a result of a recommendation of the Cluster 33 Advisory Council, Saint Clement, Good Shepherd and Saint Irenaeus Parishes in Southwest Philadelphia would consolidate to form one new parish with a new name. The new parish would use the buildings of the present Good Shepherd Parish. All of the parish buildings at Saint Clement Parish would be closed. The church building of the present Saint Irenaeus Parish would serve as an additional worship site of the new parish (Sunday Mass and funerals can be celebrated at worship sites but weddings and baptisms cannot take place.) As part of the restructuring of three parishes into one, the Darby-Colwyn, Delaware County, section of the present Saint Clement Parish would become part of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Darby, Delaware County.

Cardinal Rigali said, "I realize that this is a difficult and sad time for those who care deeply about these schools and parishes. I pray that they find comfort in Jesus Christ and in the knowledge that these steps will lead to stronger schools and parishes in both of the Clusters affected. The study process has been thorough and consultative and I am sincerely appreciative of the efforts of all of those who worked so diligently to determine the best result for parishioners, families and students. Their commitment and faith are to be commended."

The Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish Steering Committee based its recommendation on a steady enrollment decline and increasing costs to operate the school. There are currently 165 students in the school and tuition covers approximately sixty five percent of the actual cost to educate each student.

The Cluster 33 Advisory Council based its recommendations on the significant decrease in the number of parishioners, the planned reduction of at least one priest in Cluster 33 by June 2004 and a steady decline in school enrollment. There was a decrease of more than 8000 parishioners between 1998 and 2002. Enrollment in the Cluster 33 schools decreased by almost 900 students during the same time period.

Click here for more information about Cluster 18 and Cluster 33.

Donna Farrell
Broadcast and Media Specialist

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