Not so many years ago kids would graduate from St. Aloysius School, Pottstown, and continue their education two miles or so away at St. Pius X High School. But St. Pius X, founded in 1954, closed in 2010.
Now in an unusual twist, they will begin their education this September at the former high school campus, which will be the new St. Aloysius School.
It’s thanks to the Malvern-based Foundation for Catholic Education (FCE) that purchased the campus from the Philadelphia Archdiocese for $1 million and is leasing it to St. Aloysius for a dollar a year.
The agreement was formally celebrated at the campus on March 24, when Msgr. Joseph Marino, president of FCE and Jerry Parsons, executive vice president, presented the keys to the school to Father Joseph Maloney, pastor of St. Aloysius Parish and Sarah Kerins, school principal.
“The Foundation for Catholic Education along with the (archdiocesan) Executive Board of Elementary Education has made a commitment to Catholic education in Pottstown, Montgomery County,” Parsons said in a statement. “We are pleased to establish this partnership with Father Joseph Maloney, Sarah Kerins and the whole St. Aloysius Parish community in providing their students with a wonderful educational facility to learn, grow and reach their new potential.
“This new location at the former St. Pius X High School,” Parsons said, “will continue to help the St. Aloysius students develop into strong individuals guided by faith and knowledge.”
The former high school, which had an enrollment of 550 in its closing year, will be more than ample for the needs of St. Aloysius, which has 250 students in an area of growing Catholic population.
The current location on the parish campus has the students utilizing four smaller buildings with no room for growth. For its part, the St. Aloysius parish community has raised $675,000 for needed repairs at the new school campus that has remained mostly vacant.
“The relocation of our school to the campus of the former St. Pius X High School means that our parish is making a clear statement of faith in support of Catholic education,” Father Maloney said. “Our hope, our dream and our faith continues to be that through this effort we may lead souls to heaven.”
“It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit and through God’s most perfect plan that this visionary project has come to fruition,” Kerins said. “We are ensuring the rich tradition and legacy of St. Aloysius Parish School will continue while cradling the memory of our beloved former St. Pius X High School.”
Actually, God’s most perfect plan got a bit of a nudge from Kerins, Father Maloney, Archbishop Charles Chaput and Parsons.
The parish had been using and maintaining the gymnasium and fields at Pius X already with archdiocesan permission. When it appeared the property might be sold, Father Maloney and Kerins wrote to the archbishop to ask if there were some way it could be saved for St. Aloysius, although the parish did not have the funds to purchase it.
Archbishop Chaput not only responded immediately, he got Parsons, who is a member of the archdiocesan Executive Board for Elementary Education, involved and that got the ball rolling.
The Foundation for Catholic Education, which now owns the building, is best known for its work in raising money for EITC/OSTC grants through which students receive tuition grants through donations by private companies who then recover most of the funds through Pennsylvania state tax credits.
From this source the FCE has dispensed $2.6 million in tuition aid over the past seven years, much of it to students of the elementary schools that are crucial as feeders to the high schools. These funds can only be spent on tuition grants.
In addition to the EITC grants, FCE has dispensed another $2 million raised separately for unrestricted special projects such as the St. Aloysius relocation.
The new school location is already a hit with school parents.
“The move of St. Aloysius to the Pius building is what everyone is talking about. It’s going to be a new and exciting time for St. Al’s,” said Auzure Allbeck, who has a son in sixth grade and twins, a boy and a girl, in fourth grade. “It’s going to be great to have everything under one roof, to have grass for the kids to play on, and to have a separate gym that doesn’t double as the cafeteria.
“I’m most excited because my kids are excited. They are looking forward to all that the Pius campus has to offer.”