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January 14, 2008

Saint Adalbert, Nativity Blessed Virgin Mary and Our Lady Help of Christians
Parish Schools Join Together

Reverend Monsignor Francis Feret, Pastor of Saint Adalbert Parish; Reverend Anthony Orth, Pastor of Nativity B.V.M. Parish and Reverend Dennis Fedak, Pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, announced at Masses this past weekend that Cardinal Justin Rigali has accepted the parishes' recommendation to form a Regional Catholic School. The pastors informed faculty members on Thursday, January 10, 2008 and school families were also informed this weekend.

The three parish schools, which are located in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia and are within three blocks of each other, will close in June 2008. The new Regional Catholic School will open in September 2008 at the site of the present Saint Adalbert School (intersection of Thompson and Madison Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19134). The Regional Catholic School will be given a new name which will be announced at a later date.

In accepting the recommendation from the Port Richmond Steering Committee, Cardinal Rigali said, "It is always a goal that each parish have its own school but the reality of decreasing enrollment and increasing costs creates the necessity of restructuring. When schools experience low enrollment and growing financial challenges it creates a dilemma for all who wish to provide all of the components of a quality Catholic education at the most affordable tuition rate while at the same time not jeopardizing the overall financial stability of each parish. The formation of a Regional Catholic School is a solution that allows parishes to pool limited resources for their common interest and in doing so will unite these parish communities together as the regional school establishes a new identity and new traditions. At the same time I recognize that there is pain in the loss of each individual school and I pray that all of those involved in seeking to ensure that our children are formed in the faith will trust in the love of Jesus Christ."

The recommendation to form a new Regional Catholic School was made by a Steering Committee consisting of the pastors, principals and lay representatives from each parish. It comes as a result of declining enrollment, increasing costs and a desire to provide more affordable, quality Catholic education for the children of the parishes. Currently the three schools are not able to meet all of the standards for quality Catholic schools expected by the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education such as dedicated teachers for the instruction of honors math, music, world languages or resource rooms. The Regional Catholic School will provide all of these educational tools.

The enrollment at the three parish schools combined has decreased from 784 in 2002-2003 to 685 in 2007-2008. All three parishes have developed significant debt due in part to school subsidies beyond the available resources being generated by each parish. The combined debt carried by the three parishes is more than 1.6 million dollars.

The Port Richmond Steering Committee began meeting in February 2007 to explore the possibility of forming a Regional Catholic School. The members carefully considered many factors including demographics, enrollment, costs and facilities. In their November 2007 recommendation to Cardinal Rigali, the members said, "With unwavering faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and a deep commitment to His Church, the members of Nativity BVM, Our Lady Help of Christians and Saint Adalbert Catholic Schools' Steering Committee respectfully submit our report to His Eminence Cardinal Justin Rigali. After many meetings of sharing pertinent and current data concerning our parish elementary schools, we find the best possible scenario for our parish elementary schools to be a newly formed Regional Catholic School at the site of the current Saint Adalbert Catholic School building."

In accepting the recommendation to form a new Regional Catholic school, Cardinal Rigali said, "I am very grateful to the Regional Vicar, Monsignor Herbert Bevard, as well as his predecessor, Monsignor Francis Beach, for all of their hard work during this very important process. I wish to thank the pastors, Monsignor Feret, Father Orth and Father Fedak as well as the principals, Sister Mary Ripp, S.C.C., Sister M. Ruth, C.S.F.N. and Mrs. Campbell and all of the other members of the Steering Committee who gave of their time and were sincerely committed to doing what is best for the parishes and the children of Port Richmond."

Cardinal Rigali has asked the staff of the Office of Catholic Education to assist the parents, students and faculty of the three parishes in making the transition as smooth as possible over the next several months.


Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

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