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Archdiocese Explains Rationale Behind Holy Child-St. Bridget's Merger

Appeals process is closed, spokesperson said.

Despite , the Archdiocese of Philadelphia says its decision to merge  and St. Bridget's Catholic Schools at a joint facility in Manayunk is final.

"The appeal from St. Bridget's, along with the facts presented were seriously, thoughtfully, and prayerfully considered," archdiocese spokesperson Kenneth Gavin said in an email. "When weighed in light of the realities of the already regionalized school, however,  of the Blue Ribbon Commission was upheld. That decision was final and the appeals process has ended."

Since plans for a consolidated regional school in Manayunk were announced in January, parishioners from the East Falls church have  to base the new regional at St. Bridget's. Parents have questioned the archdiocese's rationale, saying school enrollment and baptismal rates were better in East Falls.

The Archdiocese's Decision

Gavin said the "following factors figured largely into that outcome" of a newly formed St. Blaise Catholic School at the site of Holy Child.

For one, Holy Child was formed in 2005 as a regional school for , , and  Parish Elementary Schools. In 2006,  and  Parish Schools were added.

"As it already successfully served as a regional school in the area, Holy Child was the most logical choice. It seemed to make the most sense to recommend that the children from St. Bridget's come to the existing regional school rather than uproot children from five parishes, some of whom had been part of a merger once already," he said.

With plans underway to consolidate or merge , Gavin said the archdiocese gave special consideration to Manayunk. Financial donations from parishioners to upgrade the facility over the past five years also contributed to the decision.

Some rumors have circulated that Manayunk received favoritism due to an Archdiocese administrator who attended a Manayunk school. Gavin denied the allegation.

"At no time did the process take into account where any archdiocesan administrator went to school," he said.

St. Bridget's Push

In February, the altered 18 of its original plans for elementary schools. In addition, 14 mission schools were formed. All four threatened high schools remained open. St. Bridget's did not earn a reprieve.

Last week, the Philadelphia Daily News highlighted St. Bridget's plea. Columnist Ronnie Polaneczky pointed to the favorable baptism and enrollment rates, plus added that East Falls possesses a more navigable landscape on Midvale Avenue. Holy Child is located on Hermitage and Fountain Streets—hilly, smaller roads without a lot of traffic options.

The Fallser newspaper quoted a letter parents sent to archdiocese. In it, parents said the neighborhood "has a demonstrated, and undisputed, track record of stability and growth over the last five years—in our neighborhood, our parish and our school."

Parents said the St. Bridget's facility was better suited for the school, as Holy Child is split between two buildings.

Community members will meet again Monday night at the East Falls Library, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The Future St. Blaise

Either way, it seems a school called St. Blaise will open somewhere in the fall. Since the merger announcement, school officials have met to plan out the new regional school.

"Implementation of the regionalization plan for the school is already well under way and progressing in a very encouraging manner," Gavin said.

Last week, the  current St. Bridget's principal, Susan Canio, as St. Blaise's new leader. Gavin said her appointment "significantly demonstrates the impartiality of the regionalization process." 

When asked, Gavin said he had no available information on current Holy Child Principal Michael Patterson's position.

For more information on St. Bridget's protest, visit their Facebook page .

For the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Faith In Our Future website, click here .

PEGGY CASSIDY March 22, 2012 at 07:56 PM
IF THE ONLY REASON HOLY CHILD WAS CHOSEN WAS BECAUSE NO ONE WANTED TO CHANGE THE CHILDREN'S SCHOOL AGAIN, WHY DID THE COMMISSION EVEN LET ST BRIDGET'S APPEAL. THERE DECISION WAS FINAL FROM THE START. HOLY CHILD IN 2005 BECAME THE REGIONAL SCHOOL IN ROXBOROUGH, BUT BY 2010, THERE ENROLLMENT DROPPED BY HALF. IS THAT CONSIDERED SUCCESS? ST BRIDGET'S HAS STOOD ON ITS OWN FOR 125 YEARS, OUR TRACK RECORD IS MUCH BETTER THAN ANY SCHOOL IN THE AREA. WE WILL RAISE THE MONEY NEEDED. THE ARCHDIOCESE USED THE APPEAL PROCESS TO WASTE PRECIOUS TIME THAT WE NEED TO RAISE FUNDS, BUT WE WILL SURVIVE
Amnesia928 March 23, 2012 at 01:06 PM
At this point, I sincerely hope that all of those who are that opposed to merging, find other things to do by September. You are doing nothing but postponing the inevitable, and in doing so, hurting the cause for the new school, your own children included. I have read all the articles, have seen all the newscasts, and am amazed by the lack of educated statements you have all made. Your facts are twisted, your calculations are off, your assumptions are without merit. You continue to attack Holy Child, its buildings, its location, its staff, its community. Has anyone ever fired back? Has anyone spoken out to correct the many many inconsistensies in your statements? You know the answer to that, and should consider your behaviors both past and future because the community which is waiting to heal along with your own community is being hindered by your ignorance and misguided actions. Good luck ruining what could be a good thing!

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