Home News Opinion: Local legislators weigh in on Catholic school closings

Opinion: Local legislators weigh in on Catholic school closings

As I waited for the Archdiocese briefing on the Faith in the Future Plan to begin, which occurred just a few hours prior to the official announcement, I glanced down at the packet of information that was handed out as you entered the room. Someone next to me said, “This is the only paper you really need.” It was the list of the affected schools.

As I looked at the list, I was shocked at what I saw. While I expected massive closings throughout the Archdiocese, I somehow thought that our neighborhood would be spared because we already endured recent closings and mergers which left us with only five grammar schools and without North Catholic.

Surely, they would not do this to us again.

But there it was: St. Laurentius in Fishtown, St. George in Port Richmond and Pope John Paul II in Bridesburg. Our Lady of Consolation, Our Lady of Ransom and St. Hubert’s High School — all closed.

Of course, the documents read “combined,” but the reality is they will be closed.

So, what should we do?

First, there is going to be an appeals process. Thus far these closings are “recommendations.” They will be accepted by the Archbishop unless there is an appeal.

In his statement describing the appeals process, Archbishop Chaput clearly stated that the appeal must articulate why the Commission is wrong in their basis for the recommendation. In other words, a school community needs to show why they feel there is long term viability for that school.

File an appeal if the Commission is wrong in their conclusions. I would like to help in this regard in any way I can. If there are meetings among parents, teachers, pastors and/or administrators, please let me know and I will be glad to participate.

I don’t want to pretend that any of this will be easy. It will not. But it may be worth a try.

In addition, for details about the Plan and to get questions answered, please go to faithinthefuture.com. If your questions are not answered after consulting the site, please call any of my offices and we will get you answers.

This is all a sad development for our neighborhoods and our church. Many of us have already been through the pain and inconvenience of school closings and the transition that follows. If I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me at (215) 425–0901, 215–744–3009 or 215–744–2600.

State Rep. John Taylor

R- 177th dist.

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Last Friday, the Archdiocese announced its plan to close or merge a number of schools in the Northeast, including: St. George, Our Lady of Consolation, Our Lady of Ransom, and St. Hubert’s.

Having grown up in St. Bartholomew’s parish and graduated from North Catholic High School, I have firsthand knowledge of the value of Catholic education to our City’s families and neighborhoods.

Both of the schools I attended as a child have closed and I understand the emotional impact that the shuttering of these institutions has on the alumni, current students and surrounding community.

While the decision to close so many of our Catholic elementary and high schools is disheartening, it’s imperative that we focus on making the displaced students’ transition as seamless as possible moving forward and that the vacated buildings are utilized quickly, responsibly and in a manner consistent with the needs of the surrounding communities.

I will continue to work with the Mayor and my council colleagues to ensure that the challenges created by these closings are addressed and look forward to an open dialogue with the Archdiocese as we move forward.

An affordable, accessible and sustainable Catholic education system — one in which students, parents, teachers and administrators are each empowered to succeed — is in many ways essential to our City’s future.


Bobby Henon

Councilman, R-6th District

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