Four Archdiocesan high schools in Philadelphia to remain open

Gloomy news about the Church makes national headlines, but a story about a turn for the better gets buried in section two or goes unreported.  The April issue of Phaith, the magazine of the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia had encouraging words about the Catholic school system. 

Archbishop Charles Chaput announced in dramatic fashion Feb. 24 at a press conference that all four archdiocesan Catholic high schools that had been recommended for closure [in June 2012] would remain open….

A new independent foundation to support Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia called Faith in the Future Foundation:  The Fund for Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders has been established, with a goal of raising at least $100 million in the next five years….

Efforts by the school communities [including alumni], donors and state lawmakers to build support for keeping the schools open, especially through fundraising, was one reason for the decision to keep the schools open, Archbishop Chaput said. 

He listed three other reasons for his decision:  strong support from state officials for expanded funding for Educational Improvement Tax Credits and school vouchers, termed “opportunity scholarships”;  major gifts of millions of dollars from philanthropists;  and the hard work and creativity of the Blue Ribbon Commission [on Catholic Education] and staff of the Office of Catholic Education. 

It is probably no coincidence that the same issue of Phaith ran another story, “Papal preacher discusses role of laity” about talks given by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa at St. Mary Magdelen Church in Media, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 12-13. 

[A]s the local Church of Philadelphia faces the possible merging and closure of parishes and schools due to the declining number of active priests to staff them, the role of the laity is becoming more prevalent…. 

Father Cantalamessa focused on the co-responsibility of priests and laity in renewing the Church, [quoting] a recent address from Pope Benedict XVI to the clergy and laity of Rome. 

“It is necessary to improve pastoral structures in such a way that the co-responsibility of all the members of the People of God in their entirety is gradually promoted, with respect for vocation and for the respective roles of the consecrated and of lay people, and this demands a change in mindset concerning lay people,” the pope said….

Lay people must “no longer be viewed as ‘collaborators’ with the clergy, but as ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and action, thereby fostering the consolidation of the mature and committed laity.”


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About Michael J. Miller 125 Articles
Michael J. Miller Michael J. Miller translated Priesthood and Diaconate by Gerhard Ludwig Müller for Ignatius Press and Eucharist and Divorce: A Change in Doctrine? for the Pontifical John Paul II Institute.