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April 25, 2005


Reverend Monsignor John Wendrychowicz, Pastor of Saint Josaphat Parish, announced at Masses this past weekend that Saint Josaphat Parish Elementary School, in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia (Cotton and Silverwood Streets), will close in June 2005. Monsignor Wendrychowicz informed teachers, parishioners and school families that he had gained the support of the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils to request permission to close the school. Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, accepted the recommendation and granted permission for the school to close at the end of the current school year. Students presently enrolled in Saint Josaphat School will have the option to attend any other parish elementary school for the 2005-2006 school year.

A message to parish and school families said that a process into which Saint Josaphat Parish entered, along with the other parishes in Manayunk, rendered the Saint Josaphat Parish community unable to come to a decision that was acceptable to parish members and school families. In January 2005, Saint Josaphat selected to remain as an individual parish elementary school along with Saint John the Baptist Parish. Holy Family, Saint Lucy and Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish, all in Manayunk, decided to join together to establish a new Regional Catholic School. That school, Holy Child Catholic School, will open in September 2005.

As those associated with Saint Josaphat School moved forward in planning for the 2005-2006 school year, they realized that enrollment was quite low, at 130 students. Conscious of keeping tuition at an affordable rate for families, an increased tuition rate for next school year was set. The tuition would need to be supported by additional fundraising of approximately $300,000 as well as the need for parish funds to be used to subsidize the school. The first of these supports, fundraising $300,000, is an impossible task for a small school community to accomplish. The latter, depleting parish funds, is unfair to the overall good of the parish.

Cardinal Rigali said, "I am grateful to Monsignor Wendrychowicz and Monsignor Beach, for their leadership in making this recommendation to close Saint Josaphat School. I recognize it was guided by a desire for careful stewardship of parish resources and for the pastoral care of parents, children and staff of the school. It is my hope that parents will continue to choose a quality, Catholic education for their children and I pray that the parishioners of St. Josaphat and all the faithful of Manayunk will continue to support Catholic education and be guided by the Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior during this transition."

A School Study Committee and a Steering Committee, made up of representatives of all five Manayunk parishes, worked for two years on the difficult task of examining declining enrolment and changing demographics in the Manayunk community. The Steering Committee believed a restructuring was necessary because current enrolment at all five schools combined is only 890 students; compared to 1285 just three years ago.

In January 2005, Cardinal Rigali accepted a school plan, submitted by the Regional Vicar, Monsignor Beach, on behalf of the parishes in Manayunk. At that time, it was announced Holy Family, Saint Lucy and Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish Elementary Schools would join together to establish a new Regional Catholic School to be known as Holy Child Catholic School. Saint Josaphat Parish and Saint John the Baptist Parish chose to remain as individual parish elementary schools. (Note: Saint John the Baptist Parish is not part of the Saint Josaphat April 2005 decision.)

Editor's Note: For more information, please visit under Pastoral Planning/Cluster 17.

Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

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