Bishop Bambera’s Plan for Diocesan Schools

Bishop Joseph Babmera announced his plan for the future of the diocesan school system at a meeting at St. Maria Goretti Church in Laflin on January 20. “Catholic schools are alive, they’re well and they’re here to stay in the Diocese of Scranton,” said Bambera. However, the bishop noted that despite the massive restructuring efforts of recent years, there are many schools “well below capacity” and one cannot rule out the possibility of further mergers or closures. In the Holy Redeemer (Luzerne County) and Holy Cross (Lackawanna County) systems, there are currently 2,094 empty seats.

Under Bambera’s plan,

  • Tuition will increase by $900 over the next three years.
  • A new marketing campaign will promote the school system.
  • Parishes assessed at 23.75 percent of their income will see their school assessments reduced to 15 percent over a period of time.

Registration for the 2011-2012 school year will begin on January 30. A decision regarding the configuration of the school system will be announced by April 15.

Click here to view a video of the bishop’s presentation.

Rallying for Catholic School Teachers

A press release from the website of the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers:

A prayer vigil and rally to support the labor rights of Catholic school teachers, who are being denied union representation in the Diocese of Scranton, is scheduled for Wednesday, January 30, 2008. The event will take place in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral, 300 Wyoming Avenue, Scranton, and will get underway at 5:30 PM.

The rally is being coordinated by the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers who have invited all area union members, local religious and clergy of all denominations to participate. Also invited are Catholic school parents, students and all local citizens who value the rights of working people and the importance of social justice.

The rally will begin with a prayer vigil, led by local clergy, for the intentions of Scranton Diocesan Bishop Joseph Martino. Teachers have asked Martino to reconsider the Diocese’s opposition to union recognition.

Does heritage and tradition matter?

During my four years as a student at Bishop O’Reilly, I often found myself gazing at the beautiful mural painted above the front doors in the school’s main foyer. The painting, of course, depicts the local parishes that at one time supported the school. Of course, I’d always eye my own church a little bit longer than the rest. I was so proud to see it up there. It’s the little brick church with maroon doors on the top left hand side: St. Martha’s. My great-grandparents helped to build that parish, mortgaging their farm to help pay for the original structure. They were Polish, as were most of the new Catholic settlers in Fairmount Springs, and the church they built reflected that heritage. Although a lot of people today decry the existence of so many “ethnic churches,” often times located just down the street from one another, I think they still have value. Every church has a history, and so often times that history is quite a story! Ethnic churches are many times the only remaining piece of one’s ancestral heritage. Sure, knowing a few songs in Polish, or learning your Italian grandmother’s cherished recipes isn’t going to radically change life for the better. But keeping these things alive gets to the heart of being human. If we don’t take pride in our past, how can we look positively at the future?

I know I’ll never forget the outpouring of support one year ago when it was first announced that Bishop O’Reilly, and so many other schools, would be forced to close. I try to be optimistic and hope that someday we’ll see a diocese opening new schools (and re-establishing the old ones) and that the tradition of Catholic education will be revitalized. But for now, we must make the best of what remains and work for the success of these schools. However, there’s another battle brewing right now that is will soon be getting a lot more attention. Perhaps the closing of churches is not as emotionally charged as the school crisis was because many of these churches are facing financial hardship and dwindling numbers. However, any church whose parishioners are willing and able to work hard to keep going, there is no reason, neither financial nor the ever-popular “shortage of priests” excuse, to close the church. I’d much rather see a church open for Mass just once a month rather than see a once vibrant church with shuttered doors. Why is this important? I’ve already made the case for churches as institutions of our cultural heritage. Yet there is even more to it than that. A neighborhood church, just like a neighborhood school, is a pillar of the community. It’s a place where you meet your neighbors and together worship God “in the beauty of holiness.” Looking at another angle, what type of message does large, empty churches signal to non-Catholics?

There are two recent situations that prompted me to sit down and write this essay. First would be the closure of Holy Rosary in Ashley. From what I understand, the parishioners of the now defunct parish, whose dwindling numbers could no longer support, requested this course of action. Nevertheless, Holy Rosary is – was – a beautiful church architecturally, both inside and out, and its towering presence now signifies only a sad state of affairs in our diocese. Perhaps even more disheartening is the situation currently taking place in Pittston. This predominantly Catholic city was already hit hard during the last two rounds of school closings. It is painful enough to drive down William Street, knowing that two pillars of Catholic education once located there sit empty. But now the Pittston skyline will also feature the steeples of two closed churches: St. Casimir’s and St. John the Baptist, along with St. Joseph’s in Port Griffith. Once again, is it really necessary to close all of these churches? Is money the primary consideration here? In the weeks, months, and years ahead, we will be faced with the church closing dilemma with increasing frequency. Before you join any committees or form an opinion on the matter, please consider what I’ve said here. Ask yourself the question: Does heritage and tradition matter? I hope you’ll agree that it does.

Diocese of Scranton Announces New School Names,Registration and Tuition

The implementation phase for the reorganization of Catholic schools in Lackawanna, Wayne and Luzerne Counties is now underway. The final plan for these counties was announced by Bishop Joseph F. Martino at a news conference on Jan. 17.

Since that day, Diocesan officials and school principals have been working on a variety of implementation details. A process for the first phase of registration and tuition rates for the 2007-08 academic year have been finalized.

In addition, Bishop Martino has announced the new names for the following institutions:

Luzerne County

* Holy Redeemer High School will be the name of the Catholic high school to be located at the current Bishop Hoban High School site.

* Good Shepherd Academy will be the name of the K-8 elementary center to be located at the current Bishop O’Reilly High School site.

* Holy Family Academy will be the name of the K-8 elementary center to be located at the current Bishop Hafey Junior/Senior High School site.

Lackawanna County

* Bishop Hannan and Bishop O’Hara High Schools will operate as one institution under the name Holy Cross High School.

“These names reflect the unity of our Catholic Church and our Diocese,” Bishop Martino said. “We have entered a new era in Catholic education for the 21st century.”

Regarding the structure of Bishop Hannan and Bishop O’Hara, the 10-12 classes will remain at their respective sites for the coming year. The incoming freshman class will be located at one site. Both sites are being evaluated and the site to be used for the freshman class will be determined in the near future.

The first registration phase for the 2007-08 academic year will be held the week of Feb. 5-9. During this phase, students who are currently enrolled in a Diocesan Catholic school will be allowed to re-register at that school. In the cases where a particular school is closing, those students can register at the designated school that is combining with the school to be closed.

For example, Holy Rosary School in Scranton and St. Mary School in Old Forge will close and combine with All Saints Academy in Scranton. Students from Holy Rosary and St. Mary will be allowed to register at All Saints during this phase.

“Our intention during this first phase of registration is to give all of our current students the opportunity to secure a seat, either in their present school or the school that their former school is joining,” said Joseph G. Casciano, Diocesan Secretary for Catholic Education and Superintendent of Schools.

An open registration period will be held toward the end of February or the beginning of March. During this second phase, new students or current students who choose not to enroll under the above conditions can seek to register at any school with available seats. Details for this process will be announced when they are complete.

There is a $100 non-refundable registration fee for both phases. The fee is not for each student, but per family within the K-12 systems in Lackawanna/Wayne Counties and Luzerne County.

Mr. Casciano said the fee has two purposes. First, the Diocese needs funding for enhancements to facilities, repairs and technology upgrades at the schools. Second, the Diocese needs to ensure that it has firm registration commitments so that staffing needs and space utilization can be planned accurately.

Tuition rates for the Lackawanna/Wayne and Luzerne systems have been set for 2007-08. The complete tuition schedule is contained at the conclusion of this article.

Mr. Casciano said that eventually tuitions will be uniform. Because tuitions have been established by each school over the years, they have varied. Therefore, for this first year under the new system, adjustments have been made.

There is a $500 fundraising fee per family within a K-12 system.

Mr. Casciano noted that an additional means of financial assistance for those with the most financial need will go into effect for the coming year. An automatic scholarship of $200 per elementary student and $400 per high school student will be awarded to families who are eligible under the same income guidelines established by the federal government for the free and reduced lunch program.

This is in addition to the existing tuition assistance provided each year through the Diocese of Scranton Scholarship Foundation.

Information about all of these scholarships is available at each school.

“We recognize that many families are making a financial sacrifice to send their children to a Catholic school, so we are making every effort to alleviate the burden as much as possible,” he said. “We want everyone to be able to enjoy the benefits of a Catholic education.”

Mr. Casciano said that transitional teams at each school have begun to address other practical aspects of the reorganization and the particular issues that will affect their respective school communities.

Meanwhile, the Diocesan human resources director is working with teacher representatives to develop a fair and equitable policy regarding school personnel. After registration is complete and the number of personnel needed is determined, the policy will be completed.

Diocese of Scranton
2007-2008 Tuition

Families will now begin to register their children from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Pre-Kindergarten will be separate from the rest.

Lackawanna/Wayne Counties

Our Lady of Peace, Clarks Green; St. Mary of Mt. Carmel, Dunmore; LaSalle Academy, Jessup; All Saints Academy, Scranton; St. Clare/St. Paul, Scranton;
Marian Catholic; Scranton

Tuition Rate Fundraising Total Cost

(Per family)*

1st Child $2200.00 $500.00 $2700.00

2nd Child $2000.00 ———- $2000.00

3rd Child $1800.00 ———- $1800.00

4th Child $0.00 ———- $0.00

Non Catholic

1st Child $3000.00 $500.00 $3500.00

2nd Child $2800.00 ———- $2800.00

3rd Child $2500.00 ———- $2500.00

4th Child $0.00 ———- $0.00

Sacred Heart, Carbondale; St. Vincent, Honesdale

1st Child $2000.00 $500.00 $2500.00

2nd Child $1800.00 ———- $1800.00

3rd Child $1600.00 ———- $1600.00

The minimum for Pre-Kindergarten is $2200.00 for five full days (pro rate accordingly. If a Pre-Kindergarten is currently higher, it will remain as it is for next year. Example ½ day program $1100.00. If there is only a child in Pre-K there is no fundraising requirement.

Holy Cross High School

1st Child $4000.00 $500.00 $4500.00

2nd Child $3500.00 ———- $3500.00

Non Catholic

1st Child $5000.00 $500.00 $5500.00

2nd Child $4500.00 ———- $4500.00

*Fundraising will be per family. The new system will be from Kindergarten to 12th grade. A family with a child in high school will only be required to meet one fundraising fee of $500.00. If a family has a child in high school and child/ren in grade school the child/ren in grade school will become the 2nd and/or 3rd child rate and so on. Re-registration fee per family is $100.00 non-refundable.

Luzerne County

Holy Rosary, Duryea; Wyoming Area Catholic, Exeter; St. Mary Assumption, Pittston; Good Shepherd Elementary Center, Kingston; Gate of Heaven, Dallas;
St. Nicholas/St. Mary, Wilkes-Barre; SS. Peter and Paul, Plains;
St. Jude, Mountaintop

Tuition Rate Fundraising Total Cost
(Per Family)*

1st Child $2200.00 $500.00 $2700.00

2nd Child $2000.00 ———- $2000.00

3rd Child $1800.00 ———- $1800.00

4th Child $0.00 ———- $0.00

Non Catholic

1st Child $3000.00 $500.00 $3500.00

2nd Child $2800.00 ———- $2800.00

3rd Child $2500.00 ———- $2500.00

4th Child $0.00 ———- $0.00

St. Aloysius, Wilkes-Barre

1st Child $2000.00 $500.00 $2500.00

2nd Child $1800.00 ———- $1800.00

3rd Child $1600.00 ———- $1600.00

Holy Family Academy, Hazleton

1st Child $1900.00 $500.00 $2400.00

2nd Child $1700.00 ———- $1700.00

3rd Child $1500.00 ———- $1500.00

The minimum for Pre-Kindergarten is $2200.00 for five full days (pro rate accordingly. If a Pre-Kindergarten is currently higher, it will remain as it is for next year. Example ½ day program $1100.00. If there is only a child in Pre-Kindergarten there is no fundraising requirement.

Holy Redeemer High School

1st Child $4500.00 $500.00 $5000.00

2nd Child $4000.00 ———- $4000.00

Non Catholic

1st Child $5000.00 $500.00 $5500.00

2nd Child $4500.00 ———- $4500.00

*Fundraising will be per family. The new system will be from Kindergarten to 12th grade. A family with a child in high school will only be required to meet one fundraising fee of $500.00. If a family has a child in high school and children in grade school the children in grade school will become the 2nd and/or 3rd child rate and so on. Re-registration fee per family is $100.00 non-refundable.

Letter Writing Campaign

If you have not done so already, please consider writing a letter to the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi as well as to the Archbishop of Philadelphia, His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali. Share your concern for the church and for our Catholic schools. Once you have written your letter, please consider posting it here so others may read it. Your thoughts and insight may also offer some needed inspiration to others who also wish to pen a letter. To share your letter, simply post it as a comment to this entry; you need not have a blog account, and your thoughts are surely welcome! Thank you to Mr. Mark Albrecht for coordinating the letter writing campaign.

Here are the addresses:

Archbishop Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America
3339 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008

His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali
222 North 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1299

archbish@adphila.org