Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dear Monsignor Prior & Monsignor Shoemaker,

Though parishioners of Holy Trinity, my family & I have frequently - over the years - been to Mass at St Ignatius, St Mark's, & St John's (where we previously were parishioners). We've been to D.C. for the March for Life with both St John's & St Ignatius. We count ourselves truly blessed to have dear friends in each of those parishes.

It's no secret that there are distinct socioeconomic differences between Holy Trinity/St Mark's and St Ignatius/St John's. While Holy Trinity & St Mark's consist primarily of working class families - many of whom have been in the area for generations - many St Ignatius and St John's families are headed by middle and upper level executives who commute to NYC or Philly or who work in the pharmaceutical industry.

When my wife and I first moved our young family to Morrisville Boro, we registered at Saint John the Evangelist (despite the fact that we lived within the geographic boundaries of Holy Trinity). Around 1997, I lost my close-to-home job and began commuting to New York City. The resultant lengthy commute prevented me from being able to drive my children to school in the morning. My wife and I then transfered our kids to Holy Trinity, BECAUSE the Morrisville school district does NOT provide busing. It is disturbing that the Blue Ribbon Commission disregards the busing issue (which is also true of Bristol Boro & St Mark's), when recommending closure of Holy Trinity (and St Mark's).

As per the Blue Commission Report,

  • "Currently there are 156 elementary and/or regional schools. Approximately 40 to 45 of them cannot be sustained, burdened by serious annual operating deficits often in parishes with heavy accumulated debts. Most of those schools have small enrollments and do not offer the key elements of a 21st century curriculum. A detailed review of these challenged schools reveals 34 schools have enrollments fewer than 200 and of these, 14 have fewer than 150. Eleven other schools across the Archdiocese have more than 200 students but have demonstrated a pattern of decreasing enrollments and financial deficits and are therefore considered challenged. We urge that a partnering and regionalizing plan for these schools be implemented as soon as possible."

The Blue Commission Report's own published data simply does not match its recommendations:

  • school enrollment: Holy Trinity (79% of capacity); St John's (56% of capacity)

  • parish subsidy: Holy Trinity ($222,256); St John's ($367,992)

  • parish surplus/deficit: Holy Trinity ($74,071); St John's ($244,481)

  • programs w/o f/t faculty: Holy Trinity (5); St John's (5)

Judging by the archdiocese's own data, Holy Trinity is far more "sustainable" than St John's. One explanation is actually quite simple. The public school alternative for most St John's families (i.e., Pennsbury) is viewed as greatly superior to the public school alternative for most Holy Trinity families (i.e., Morrisville). Though generally less affluent, Holy Trinity families are generally more eager to use the parish school. Yet it seems increasingly clear that, at least in this situation, the Blue Ribbon Commission's recommendation was NOT based on its own data!

Monsignors, going to St John the Evangelist School and St Ephrem School will NOT be options for numerous Morrisville & Bristol Boro families. Neither St John's nor St Ephrem's are going to "benefit" from increased enrollments. The proposed closures/consolidations will benefit no one.

A great injustice is set to be done to the less affluent families of Holy Trinity and St Mark's. I respectfully request that you prayerfully consider authentic Catholic Social Teaching and appeal the Blue Ribbon Commission's recommendations. For example, it would make abundantly more sense for St John's kids to come to Holy Trinity or for the schools of St John's and St Ignatius to merge.


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