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March 27, 2006


Reverend Francis P. Groarke, Pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, announced at Masses this past weekend that Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, has accepted the recommendation to close Holy Name of Jesus Parish School (East Berks and Gaul Streets) at the end of the 2005-2006 school year.

St. Laurentius Parish has invited as many of the Holy Name students as they can accommodate to be a part of St. Laurentius school community. Any other students who cannot be accommodated at St. Laurentius School may choose to attend any area Catholic School of their choice. Holy Name of Jesus Parish will continue to offer Sacramental preparation for their students and parents since the Sacraments of Initiation will be celebrated at Holy Name. Holy Name Parish and the Office of Catholic Education will continue to work with Holy Name school families during this transition.

The recommendation to close Holy Name of Jesus Parish Elementary School was made after the parish and school assessed the projected enrollment for the 2006-2007 school year of 165 students and examined the financial reality facing the parish if it continued to subsidize the school. The increasing costs are in part a result of a significant decrease in enrollment. Since the 2001-2002 school year the student body has decreased by 77 students. Enrollment currently is 180 students (K-8th grade) while the budget for the current school year was based upon 198 students. Tuition does not cover the cost to educate each student.

On December 1, 2005 a proposal was submitted to the three Parishes of Holy Name, St. Laurentius and St. Anne calling for the closure of St. Anne Elementary School and using the two Fishtown sites of Holy Name of Jesus School and St. Laurentius School for a newly formed regional school. That proposal was found unacceptable with the St. Anne's Steering Committee members and St. Anne Parish Community.

In early January, the Office of Catholic Education met with the three Pastors to discuss concerns raised about the proposal. The three Pastors presented these concerns to the parishes asking for input but protest resulted. In late January, because consensus could not be reached on the study the Archdiocese asked the Pastors to work with the Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils to review facts pertaining to school enrollments, tuition, parish income, expenses, and the parish's ability to provide sufficient funds for the school to reopen in September 2006. In addition, the Archdiocese offered to subsidize each parish for one year through the IPCC (Interparochial Cooperation Commission) to allow the parish time to determine its own fate through established guidelines.

The Pastoral and Finance Councils of Holy Name of Jesus Parish developed a school budget based on projected enrollment for 2006-2007 and determined that even with the Archdiocesan offer of subsidy, the tuition cost to parish families would be beyond their reach. The developed budget was reviewed by the Office of Parish Financial Services of the Archdiocese and by an independent accounting firm. When the proposed tuitions rates were made public in light of the proposed budget, most parishioners said that they could not afford the rates.

The Pastoral and Finance Councils met on February 23, 2006 to vote on a proposal to close Holy Name School and use
Saint Laurentius as the Catholic school in Fishtown. The vote was unanimous with one member abstaining. A letter was drafted by Father Groarke to Cardinal Rigali detailing the Pastoral and Finance Committee's recommendation. That recommendation was submitted to Cardinal Rigali for consideration and accepted.

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Donna M. Farrell
Director of Communications

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