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St. Rose Goes and Goretti, Gone

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced school closures and mergers today

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced that, locally, St. Rose of Lima Parish School, in North Wales, will merge with in Lansdale at the St. Stanislaus site.

St. Maria Goretti, in Hatfield Township, will merge with in Upper Gwynedd, at Corpus Christi.

The Archdiocese made the formal announcement at 4 p.m., streamed live at http://archphila.org.

Lansdale Catholic High School was saved in the closures and mergers, and The Reporter in Lansdale garnered comment from that school's principal and president.

Archbishop Charles Chaput said the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission were what the Archdiocese needed for its future.

"Finally, I'm convinced that, as we take this report to heartand apply it creatively and diligently without losing focus, we can renew Catholic education across the Archdiocese," he said. "But we need to support the whole Catholic community, and frankly, we need the help of generous peoples from the general public."

"We need to own this together, all of us," Chaput said.

Jack Quindlen, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Commission, said the commission was formed 13 months ago tomorrow, and it was charged with chartering the future course of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

"The commission has done its work," Quindlen said.

The Archdiocese has faced declining enrollment, brought about by lower birthrights, demographic shifts and higher tuitions.

"As a result of these declines, the number of schools was simply not financially viable," Quindlen said.

The closings are one part of a "forward-looking program" designed specifically to strengthen remaining schools.

Commission member Ed Hanway, chairman emeritus of CIGNA Corporation, said many people on the commission are themselves products of Catholic education in the Archdiocese, with a vast majority graduates of Catholic high schools.

"We owe a great deal to Catholic education. We owe it to the current and future generations of Philadelphians that opportunity for future and affordable and accessible Catholic education is available to them," Hanway said.

The closings and mergers, he said, were necessary and long overdue.

"The recommendations are not about reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic; these recommendations will fundamentally reposition our schools, making them academically stronger and financially more stable ... and more able to compete and grow in the years ahead," he said.

Decline, he said, will continue unless acted on decisively.

Hanway touched on the $320,000 parish subsidy across all Archdiocese schools, which increased 25 percent in 10 years.

This subsidy, he said, is weakening the entire school system and simply cannot continue.

The tuition gap has also grown 25 percent in 10 years, which drives the increase in subsidies.

"The reaction to the gap at the parish school level has been to reduce programs, cut resources and/or raise tuition, which often drives families to other options, thereby further reducing enrollment," he said.

He referred to this as a "death spiral."

"(It) weakens the school and provides skepticism to viability," he said.

Lisa Joyce Grosso August 23, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Well now they have closed so many down that there are not enough spaces and nothing but waiting lists. They went from one extreme to another.......

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