More Catholic schools could be closed for good

On Jan. 5, Cath­ol­ics will cel­eb­rate the feast day of St. John Neu­mann, who served as bish­op of Phil­adelphia from 1852-60 and foun­ded the first Cath­ol­ic dio­ces­an school sys­tem in the United States.

On Jan. 6, an Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia blue rib­bon com­mis­sion will is­sue re­com­mend­a­tions about the fu­ture of Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion in Phil­adelphia and the sub­urbs.

The re­com­mend­a­tions will be re­viewed by the Rev. Charles J. Chaput, arch­bish­op of Phil­adelphia for the last three months.

“It will likely coun­sel that some, and per­haps many, schools must close or com­bine,” Chaput wrote in a let­ter that was read at Masses last week­end.

There are 156 arch­dioces­an ele­ment­ary schools in Phil­adelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Mont­gomery Counties. Sev­en­teen of those schools are in the North­east.

The arch­diocese runs 17 high schools. North Cath­ol­ic and Car­din­al Dougherty were closed in 2010.

Since 2003, the arch­diocese has closed five loc­al schools: Ma­ter Dol­orosa and St. Joachim in Frank­ford, St. Bartho­lomew in Wissi­nom­ing, St. Leo in Ta­cony and St. Bern­ard in East May­fair.

Cath­ol­ic schools every­where are suf­fer­ing from de­clin­ing en­roll­ment be­cause of chan­ging neigh­bor­hoods, an in­crease in the num­ber of charter schools and rising tu­ition.

Par­ish pas­tors and school pres­id­ents and prin­cipals are tent­at­ively sched­uled to gath­er on Fri­day, Jan. 6, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Neu­mann Uni­versity in As­ton, Delaware County. There, the 16-mem­ber com­mis­sion will re­lease its find­ings.

Chaput’s let­ter also noted that, in early 2012, there will be a res­ol­u­tion of the cases of priests placed on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave be­cause of al­leged sexu­al mis­con­duct. ••

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