Well, color me shocked. The AD isn't known for doing such an about-face on anything, so this is really surprising. Perhaps Chaput really is a different type of leader than his predecessors, and this really is the start of a kindler, gentler, smarter era of Catholic leadership in Philadelphia.
The reversals were handed in the same ham-fisted way the original recommendations were, and now some schools--originally slated to stay open in one form or another--have been blindsided with news that they're going to close outright. No advance notice or, in some cases, a chance to protest.
But amid the celebration, there was shock and sadness in a few spots. As was the case with St. John the Evangelist in Morrisville, parents at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Media were stunned to learn their school would close in June.
The school had been expecting to be the site of a new regional school with St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford. But St. John's winning its appeal means that Nativity now will close, and Media students will be expected to travel to Wallingford.
Karen Rosen, the mother of a kindergartner at Nativity, whose family has been active in the school and parish for 50 years, said Nativity parents were shut out of the process.
"We didn't have a chance to defend ourselves," she said.
Will they get a chance to appeal, too?
The easy reversals makes you wonder how ironclad the recommendations actually are. I mean, if they can be so easily overturned, the panel couldn't have been that confident in the picks, right?
Maybe I'm giving them too much credit, however, by assuming they actually went about this fairly and honestly. In the biggest story no one is talking about, the Archdiocese had made arrangements to let a new charter school use the facilities at Our Lady of Mount Carmel two months before the panel recommended the school close. (Despite an appeal, the school will still close.)
If you managed to save your school, congrats. But don't get complacent. Too many parishioners only get serious about saving a church or school once the axe is about to fall. You need to be proactive about this stuff. Don't take your institutions for granted. Find the money, find it now, and never stop, because you can't rely on the AD to have a change of heart. Seriously, this is like the first time ever.
Archdiocese to Conshohocken: Drop Dead. That was the working title of this post. (Seriously). That said, Conshy's existing regional school lost its appeal, so students are, to put it mildly, SOL. (No, this is a family blog, so I'm not spelling it out.) They're less SOL than before--the AD will graciously let them choose their new schools, instead of forcing a trek out to King of Prussia--but SOL nonetheless.