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January 3, 2012


The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. has received the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission, which include an ambitious plan to restructure the schools that will stabilize Catholic schools across the Archdiocese and position them for future growth. The recommendations also address, among other things, Parish Religious Education Programs (PREP), governance and advocacy for government support.

"The content of the report is challenging - especially, and in a very personal way, for many of our families and students," said Archbishop Chaput. "But we can no longer avoid dealing with enrollment and financial realities that have been building in our schools for many years. The restructuring proposed in the Commission's report is a critical first step in renewing the health of our Catholic education ministry."

Appointed by Cardinal Justin Rigali in December 2010, the 16-member Blue Ribbon Commission engaged in a yearlong process to examine current programs at all levels. They looked at the educational programs offered at each school, current and historical enrollment figures, overall finances for the schools and parishes, current and projected capacity, facility improvements that would be needed and overall demographic trends in the Archdiocese. The Commission found that overall enrollment is down more than 70 percent since 1961, parish subsidies to the schools have increased by 25 percent in the last 10 years, and rising costs have caused a reduction of full-time personnel to staff programs like art, music, languages and technology at some parish elementary schools.

With deep analysis, thoughtful debate and continued prayer, the Commission has recommended restructuring the schools as part of a broader plan designed to strengthen the remaining schools and enhance Catholic education in the Philadelphia region. This restructuring plan includes partnering and regionalizing a significant number of parish elementary and high schools across the Archdiocese.

"While the restructuring of our schools was necessary to ensure their future, our plan is much broader," said John J. (Jack) Quindlen, Chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission. "This plan is designed to develop stronger schools that are better positioned to deliver the high quality education that parents want and students need in order to compete in the 21st century."

The plan includes a new governance model that will provide greater oversight and efficiency to the management of the schools. More support will go into the Parish Religious Education Programs (PREP) that serve tens of thousands of students who attend public schools but come to the parishes to receive their Sacraments and Catechetical Formation. The plan also calls for establishing a foundation, specifically to support our schools, to supplement the current foundation, parish and Archdiocesan support. This foundation will provide for greater tuition assistance and will ensure that the schools have the funds needed to innovate.

"I am grateful to the Commission for their tireless work over the last year," said Archbishop Chaput. "The charge given to them was not an easy one and we have deep appreciation for their commitment to this worthy cause. I also extend my heartfelt support and prayer to the administrators, teachers, staff and families who are affected by this news."

The Blue Ribbon Commission report, parent letters and updates from the Office of Catholic education can be viewed at


Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

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