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March 30, 2009


St. Benedict Parish School in East Germantown and St. Ann Parish School in Bristol Borough, Bucks County to Close in June 2009

Reverend George B. Moore, Pastor of St. Benedict Parish in East Germantown and Reverend James R. Day, O.SS.T, Pastor of St. Ann Parish in Bristol Borough, Bucks County today announced that their recommendations to close their respective parish elementary schools have been accepted by Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia. Both Father Moore and Father Day recently informed their parishioners, faculty members and school families that their parish school would close at the completion of the 2008-09 school year.

Saint Benedict Parish School, 1919 Medary Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141
The recommendation to close Saint Benedict was made after a thorough study, led by Father Moore and the Saint Benedict Parish Finance Committee and Parish Pastoral Council. St. Benedict Parish School has experienced steady decline in the school's enrollment that continues to impact negatively the financial health of both the school and the parish. This year, the total student enrollment was 164. The forecasted student enrollment for the 2009-2010 school year at St. Benedict Parish School was 150. The cost per student next year would have been $4,000.

Saint Ann Parish School, 418 Jefferson Avenue, Bristol, PA 19007
Since the year 2000-2001 St. Ann Parish School has also experienced steady decline in the school's enrollment that has dramatically increased the cost of educating each pupil and forced an increased tuition burden on St. Ann parish families. Last year during the 2007-2008 academic year both the Finance Council and the Parish Pastoral Councils met to discuss options, and brought this information to the parish and school families. Much effort was made to increase enrollment, broaden the fundraising and market the school; nevertheless, during the 2008-09 school year, the total student enrollment decreased to 125. The actual tuition cost per child was projected to be close to $5000 for next year. It was recommended that the school families bear more of the actual cost per pupil, since the parish could not increase its already significant subsidy. Following an announcement that set 2009-10 yearly tuition at $4,000 per parishioner and $5,000 per non-parishioner, only five students re-registered for St. Ann's Parish School for the 2009-10 school year.

In accepting the recommendations for closure, Cardinal Rigali said, "I understand and respect that this is extremely painful news for the St. Benedict and St. Ann parish families. These difficult decisions are never made lightly, but always responsibly, with much prayer, analysis and long-term thinking to ensure that an affordable, high-quality Catholic education is within reach for our parents to provide their children. I will keep St. Benedict and St. Ann parish communities close in mind and pray that they find comfort in their faith during this time of transition"

Current St. Benedict and St. Ann's parents will receive assistance from their respective school administrations and the Office of Catholic Education to enroll their children in another nearby Catholic school. The Office of Catholic Education will also assist the teachers in an effort to find teaching positions at other Catholic schools.

Cardinal Rigali also expressed his gratitude to the pastors and all of those who spent so much time and effort working on behalf of the parish and school. "I thank Father Day, Father Moore, Father Joseph Logrip, Regional Vicar for Philadelphia-North, and Reverend Monsignor James Beisel, Regional Vicar for Bucks County, for their fortitude and commitment in recommending the best long-term plan for St. Benedict Parish and St. Ann Parish. I also express my gratitude to Sister Mary Donald, O.SS.T, Principal of St. Ann Parish School, Ms. Lisa McLish, Principal of St. Benedict Parish School, and the faculty and staff of both schools for their continued service to the students in their care. The spiritual and academic needs of these students remain our first priority, and we will do everything possible to help ensure a smooth transition for them."

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Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

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