I write as a fomer parishioner of Saint John the Evangelist and a current parishioner of Holy Trinity, who needed to transfer his then-school-age kids out of Saint John's School and to Holy Trinity School, because the Morrisville Boro did not (and does not) provide school bus transportation. I also write as someone who has done volunteer sign language interpreting at Holy Angels in Trenton for 20+ years.
In the 866 word "Text of [the] letter sent by Stephen Bontempo to Archbishop Chaput" (Courier Times, 3/14/12), Mr. Bontempo made some interesting statements:
- "We had another parish step forward from New Jersey (St. Raphael's) who was in the same boat and turned their situation around. The parallels were staggering. Same deficit numbers, same declining enrollment. When faced with closure they put together a plan to save their parish and they did it. We took many cues from them in our plan but we were not given the opportunity to implement it. How much time was spent analyzing our 35-page plan to save St. John the Evangelist? Those in the committee were not even allowed to help present it."
I suspect that Mr. Bontempo might not be fully aware of just how staggering the parallels are in the historical relationships of the former Holy Angels' parish with the former Saint Raphael's parish and that of Holy Trinity parish to Saint John the Evangelist parish! Of those from "Saint Raphael's - Holy Angels'" parish who live in what was "Holy Angels' parish," Mr. Bontempo would be hard pressed to find people who supported the closing of Holy Angels school. It appears that someone failed to provide Mr. Bontempo with a complete picture.
Several generations ago, Saint Raphael parish had come to be, because Holy Angels parish had grown too large. Similarly, Saint John the Evangelist parish came to be, because Holy Trinity parish had grew too large. In both cases, the new parishes occupied the more suburban parts of the parishes from which they came.
Several years back, the Holy Angels parish was merged back with Saint Raphael's parish; the two became Saint Raphael's-Holy Angels' parish. Around that same time, the doors of Holy Angels' school were closed; the new parish only operates Saint Raphael's school. When the Blue Ribbon Commission's recommendations were first released, anyone from Holy Trinity parish who knew of this history from across the river would have had to shudder!
The Blue Ribbon Commission report failed to consider that the Morrisville Boro school district does not provide transportation, when it recommended that both Saint John the Evangelist school and Holy Trinity school close - and form a new school on the grounds of Saint John the Evangelist parish. Children from Morrisville would have been cut out by the lack of transportation, which allows children from the Pennsbury school district transportation to a choice of several Catholic schools. In addition, that recommendation failed to account for its own data in guaging "sustainability," in such areas as current school enrollment, parish subsidies, and parish surpluses/deficits.
Had the original recommendations gone forth, I believe that a great injustice would have been done to transportation-less students at the sustainable Holy Trinity school (as well as at St Mark's, which was in an identical boat).