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August 26, 2004

Next step: community meetings

The Office for Community Development, part of the Secretariat for Catholic Human Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has completed a community survey that shows very strong support for transforming the former St. John Neumann High School site, located at 26th and Moore streets, into housing for older adults.

Eighty-nine percent of the residents of the immediate area (25th to 30th streets and Tasker Street to Snyder Avenue) favored the proposed reuse of the site for housing for older adults. Surveys were also distributed to parishioners in the surrounding Catholic parishes of St. Monica, St. Richard and Holy Spirit. Eighty-six percent of all respondents in the combined areas indicated support for the concept, which includes supportive independent living and/or assisted living for ages 62 and up. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents indicated that this proposed reuse would benefit their own households.

"The Church is committed to serving this area of Philadelphia with facilities that reach out to meet the needs of the community," commented John Wagner, Director of the Office for Community Development. "The pastors and parishioners thought there was a need for this kind of facility in the area, and we're gratified to see that the community as a whole agrees. Whatever we do, we want to do it right. In addition to holding community meetings, we will be doing a market analysis and assessing the financial feasibility."
Suzanne O'Grady, project developer for the Office for Community Development, noted that nearly 500 surveys were returned, more than enough for a statistically viable conclusion. The process to determine the future of the building originated from Norm 48 of the recently completed Tenth Synod for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which decreed that "Catholic Human Services was to continue to explore the conversion of archdiocesan facilities into affordable housing for older adults and for persons requiring special assistance." (The Synod was an assembly of priests, religious and lay people who met during the fall of 2002 to examine the many components and missions of the local Catholic church and offer recommendations to the Archbishop.) The pastors and parishioners in the area had also requested that the Archdiocese consider creating housing and services for older adults.

Beginning with the 2004-2005 school year, the students from the former St. John Neumann High School will consolidate with the girls at St. Maria Goretti High School at 10th and Moore streets. The combined school will be known as Ss. John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School. Whatever the future use of the former St. John Neumann site, the combined high school will retain use of the athletic fields for sports and activities.

The school was founded in 1934 as Southeast Catholic High School at 7th and Christian streets. The name was changed to Bishop Neumann High School in September 1955. Since 1956, the school has operated at 26th and Moore streets. The name was changed to reflect Bishop Neumann's canonization as a Saint of the Church in 1978.


Marcia Carle
Communications Assistant

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