Philadelphia Archdiocese Closing Seven Area Catholic Grade Schools

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that it would be closing seven Catholic grade schools in the Philadelphia area at the end of this school year due to low enrollment.

For the past five years Paul Townes has waited at the corner of “G” and Westmoreland Streets to walk his 10-year-old daughter Nyderah home from school.

But where Paul waits for his daughter is about to change because Ascension of Our Lord Parish School in Kennsington is closing.

“It’s a good school,” said 10-year-old Nyderah. “I don’t know why it’s closing.”

The schools’ enrollment is at 118 students. That’s a 43% drop compared to five years ago when enrollment was at 204.

A drop in the number of students attending Catholic schools is the main reason why this school and six others will close in June.

The seven schools scheduled to close are:

* Ascension of Our Lord Parish School, in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

* St. Anne Parish School, also in Kensington.

* Our Lady of Fatima Parish School, in Bensalem (Bucks County), Pa.

* St. Cyprian Parish School, in the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia.

* St. Hugh of Cluny Parish School, in the Fairhill section of Philadelphia.

* St. Martin of Tours Parish School, in New Hope (Bucks County), Pa.

* St. Thomas Aquinas Parish School in Croydon (Bucks County), Pa.

The Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Mary Rochford, says the only option would have been to raise tuition.

Meanwhile, the president of St. Anne’s Alumni Association says he is fighting to make sure the school he helped raise 200,000 dollars for, in the last two years, stays open.

“Myself and our executive alumni staff spent this weekend seeking out our church leaders and asking for reconsideration,” said Vincent Fenerty.

Faculty members were informed of the decision at the end of last week and letters went out to all parents last Friday. Announcements were also made during Sunday mass at all of the affected parishes over the weekend.

“As Catholic people we become very connected and identify ourselves with our parish.  It feels as though part of the parish is dying.  And that’s what it is for the people — it’s a real death, a real separation,” she told KYW Newsradio.

Parents have received information about neighboring parish schools, to help them decide where to send their children next fall.


The Office Of Catholic Education Announces Parish School Closures

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio; Jericka Duncan, CBS 3

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  • Tom

    Got to pay the Legal fees for the Pedophile Priest Fund! Keep putting in your Sunday envelopes ladies and gentleman!!! LOL, I stopped mine forever!

  • Mitch

    I can remember going to Catholic parochial,elementary school when there were 72 students in the class the first day and the number never dipped below 50 through the rest of the school year. If you failed to get a good education, the fault was with you, not the school.

    And I don’t buy the “we can’t pay the schoold taxes AND the tuition. Why not? My parents did.

    And the last thing the Caholic School system wants is to accept tax dollars. Then the government would have a say in what’s being taught. I heard nun after nun say the same thing in school.

    • Mitch

      P.S. I should have said “my PARENT did”. It was a one-earner household..

  • Pete W.

    Bill V.

    I no longer contribute to the Catholic legal fund. Additionally, I would gladly give up ALL rights and/or privileges as a result of my personal mores. Once the Catholic Church rights the wrong, we can talk about future contributions. Until then, I have no use for it and refuse to allow my children to be placed in harms way.

    • chuck

      good for you! You are very smart to protect your children!

  • BGM

    The school closings in Bucks County are not surprising as the public schools in those areas offer a broader curricula. Much to their benefit, they are not under the leadership of the Philadelphia School Board. Fiscal mismanagement has harmed both the public sector as well as private. Government agencies settle with tax dollars and private institutions settle with donations. The number of teachers with Masters degrees is higher than those teaching in the Philadelphia public school system and it seems as though the Archdiocese of Philadelphia didn’t take that into account in the areas where they are now closing schools. It is sad for the inner city children as the city public schools are overcrowded. Many Ivy league universities offer full paid tuition for low income families yet how many of those students graduating from a Philadelphia Public School compared to an Archdiocese of Philadelphia obtain admittance. If lower income families are ever to see their children step forward it will only be through quality education and providing school vouchers would allow all an equal opportunity. Time to stop the flow of funds to the failing Philadelphia School District and support all private school educational options.

  • Daniele

    Catholic school has and always will be a sacrifice worth making in our household. Instant gratification from material things only lasts so long … a great education is PRICELESS!!! My children will receive the same.

  • G Logan

    Saint Anne’s is in Port Richmond not Kensington.

  • Nick Frese

    “It’s not that people can not afford the tuition. It is that they can not afford the tuition combined with the school tax they must pay for public school education.”
    I may be missing something here, please educate me if so, but doesn’t it cost a family $0 to send a kid to public school? Isn’t that less than what it costs to send that child to parochial school? The subject of vouchers does sound like a good idea, if indeed that saves the townships money, though. But I guess their position might well be: “why should we pay them anything, as going to Catholic school is their choice.” I went to Catholic school and had a very nice education. But I doubt my parents could have afforded it today.

    • Guess Who

      You don’t pay school taxes?

  • Bill

    When you have to pay lawyers and legal awards I guess they’ll have to tighten up the belt somewhere! The priests are definitely not going to stop molesting the children or they would have by now. This is called comeuppance.

    • Bill (V)

      From one “Bill” to another: 1. These alleged incidents should have nothing to do with schools closing, but they do because… 2. people violate Church law by refusing to contribute in the collection. Which brings us to #3 — these non-contributors need to have their PRIVILEGES (not “rights”) taken away. No graduation,field trips or the big one — NO BURIAL.

  • llcoolk50

    Kelly, Steve actually is right. The Catholic Schools have an excellent track record of education kids and preparing them for college at a much lower cost per student than public schools. Parents cannot afford the excessive school taxes and the cost of tuition. The govt refuses to allow vouchers yet the parents of catholic school children are paying for the township to educate their children even though the the township does not educate their children.

    • charles

      Except for the children who were molested and then told not to speak out. Oh that’s right most of them have committed suicide by now due to the shame. What kind of education did they receive ll?

  • Steve

    It’s not that people can not afford the tuition. It is that they can not afford the tuition combined with the school tax they must pay for public school education. The archdiocese is actually very good at keeping cost per student lower than the public schools. An elementary education costs, on average, about $4K less per year, per student for the parochial schools to educate students in the Philadelphia area compared to the public schools. Once the public sector unions can be broken, maybe we can all benefit from lower public education costs, and therefore, lower public education taxes.

  • Kelly

    the catholic church is pricing themselves out of busines…is it any wonder that people can’t afford to send their children to catholic school especially in the inner city?

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