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February 13, 2006


Pastors at several parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced at Masses this past weekend that recommendations for restructuring made by the parishes have been accepted by Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia. The pastors informed faculty members on Friday, February 10, 2006 and school families were also informed this weekend.

All of the recommendations were made by Steering Committees or Study Committees made up of the Pastor, Principal and parish representatives. The recommendations were made after extensive consultation within each parish community and after much discussion, deliberation and prayer. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office of Catholic Education will continue to work with the schools in the coming months to do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition for students and their families so that all who want a quality Catholic education are able to achieve that goal.

Montgomery County Vicariate

Saint Peter Parish in Pottstown and Saint Clare Parish in Linfield, both in the Limerick area, will consolidate to form one new parish because of tremendous growth in the surrounding area of the two parishes. In approving the recommendation to consolidate parishes, a review by the Council of Priests is required before final approval is considered. The new parish, which will be located on 24 acres in the area of Swamp Pike and Neiffer Road in Limerick, will also work toward having one educational center. The suggested name for the new parish is awaiting approval from Rome.

Holy Saviour and Saint Paul Parishes, both in Norristown, will join their two elementary schools together into one new school at the site of the present Saint Paul School beginning with the 2006-2007 school year. The consolidated school will be given a new name which will be announced at a later date. The two parishes are located approximately 1.6 miles from one another.

The Holy Saviour Parish - Saint Paul Parish Joint Committee's recommendation was based upon declining enrollment and increasing costs. In the past five years, Holy Saviour School's enrollment decreased from 188 to 138 students. During that same time period, Saint Paul's enrollment decreased from 222 to 174 students. Tuition does not cover the costs of operating the schools. Holy Saviour Parish subsidizes 81 percent of the school's costs. Saint Paul Parish subsidizes 39 percent of that school's costs.

Presentation B.V.M. Parish School in Wynnewood and Saint Thomas/Good Counsel School in Bryn Mawr will close at the end of the 2005-2006 school year. Saint Margaret Parish School in Narberth, which had been part of a school study with Presentation and Saint Thomas/Good Counsel Schools, will remain open.

The recommendations of the Cluster 70 Steering Committee were based upon declining enrollments, increasing costs and changing demographics in the area. Saint Margaret Parish School enrollment has declined from 250 students in 1999-2000 to 192 students in 2004-2005. Presentation B.V.M. School saw enrollment decline from 196 students in 1999-2000 to 145 students in 2004-2005. Saint Thomas/Good Counsel School enrollment decreased from 201 students in 1999-2000 to 146 students in 2004-2005. When enrollment decreases, costs increase.

Philadelphia-North Vicariate

Saint Ambrose Parish School in Philadelphia will close at the end of the 2005-2006 school year. In an effort to ensure continuity of educational and pastoral care of the students from Saint Ambrose Parish, the parish also recommended that all students attend Saint Martin of Tours Parish School in the next school year. Saint Martin of Tours will host an Open House on Thursday, February 16, 2006.

The recommendation of the Saint Ambrose Steering Committee was a result of declining enrollment, declining baptisms and increasing expenses. Since 1996, the enrollment of Saint Ambrose School has declined from 470 to 195 students in the current school year. Projected enrollment for the 2006-2007 school year was 180 students.

Tuition does not cover the cost of running the school. As enrollment has decreased, the cost to educate each pupil has steadily increased, placing a tremendous financial burden on the parish. The parish has needed to draw from its reserves to support the school.

Delaware County Vicariate

Cluster 63

While there had been discussion of forming a regional Catholic school, in the end, no consensus could be found. Each of the four parishes in Cluster 63 with schools offered its own recommendation to Cardinal Rigali. Blessed Virgin Mary Parish School in Darby and Saint Philomena Parish School in Lansdowne will remain open as parish elementary schools. Saint Cyril of Alexandria Parish has embarked upon a financial campaign to raise $200,000 by March 31, 2006. Any decision to reopen the school in September 2006 will depend upon enrollment and parish income. The school's future will continue to be studied.

Saint Alice Parish School in Upper Darby, also in Cluster 63, will close at the end of the 2005-2006 school year. The parish recommended the closure due to low enrollment (currently 166), the limited finances of the parish and increasing costs. The majority of surveys returned by Saint Alice Parish School families indicated that parents were favoring St. Laurence Parish School in Highland Park for their children to attend next year. This would help to maintain the Saint Alice Parish identity for the children and would enable the Pastor, Father Quinn, to provide pastoral and spiritual care for the parish children.

Saint Katharine Drexel Parish School in Chester, which has been in a self-study, will continue to raise funds for the school and examine its future.

Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

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