By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T
DELAWARE COUNTY – At the request of the pastors and with the permission of Cardinal Justin Rigali, Delaware County’s Cluster 64 and Cluster 65 parishes are undergoing a review of the state of Catholic education through elementary schools and religious education programs in their area.
Cluster 64 includes Sacred Heart, Clifton Heights; St. Joseph, Collingdale; St. George, Glenolden; St. Gabriel, Norwood; St. Eugene, Primos; Our Lady of Fatima, Secane; and Holy Spirit, Sharon Hill.
Cluster 65 includes St. Rose of Lima, Eddystone; St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Essington; Our Lady of Peace, Milmont Park; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Morton; St. Madeline, Ridley Park; and Notre Dame de Lourdes, Swarthmore.
The combined parochial school enrollment within the two clusters declined from 2,741 in the 2003 school year to 1,986 in the 2008-9 school year, or more than 27 percent. There were 412 infant baptisms in the clusters in 2008 against 559 in 2003, down considerably from the approximate 900 baptisms in the early 1990s.
The two clusters set pastoral plans in 1999 and 2003, which did not address Catholic education.
“There was nothing mentioned about parish elementary schools and parish religious education programs,” said Father George P. Majoros, Regional Vicar for Delaware County. “Bishop (Joseph R.) Cistone, who is the Regional Bishop, and I met with the pastors and began to look at the issue because we realized school enrollments and infant baptisms were down.”
Each parish has formed a review committee, with some members forming a cluster steering committee which will meet for the first time this June.
The stated goal is to develop a plan which will ensure in the best way possible, “excellent, accessible, affordable and sustainable Catholic elementary education for future generations” within that part of Delaware County for both the immediate and long-term future.
The review will entail a broad consultation process involving all of the parish and school communities, and the steering committee will issue regular communiqués to publicize progress.
At the conclusion of the consultation process the steering committee will present a recommendation to Cardinal Rigali regarding both elementary schools and religious education programs. The report is expected to be completed later this year.
Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103