Phila. Catholics voice fear, anger over school closures

January 8, 2012 3:44:09 PM PST
Catholics in the Philadelphia area are voicing their fear and anger over the planned closings of more than 40 schools.

The archdiocese made the announcement on Friday citing a one-third drop in the student population in the last decade.

RELATED: List of Catholic schools targeted for closure, consolidation

On the surface, the 11:00 a.m. mass at St. George's Parish in Port Richmond appeared normal, but below the surface there was a strong feeling of sorrow in the church and around the neighborhood.

As soon as services were over, the children whose elementary school is on the chopping block this spring held a not so spontaneous demonstration of their discontent complete with placards.

While anger is somewhat muted in certain areas of the city, Action News caught up with those voicing their opinion.

The archdiocese is taking a verbal tongue lashing from members of Epiphany of Our Lord parish like Dominic Buccieri whose children attend the elementary school.

Dominic is downright bitter about the plan to close the school.

"They raise the tuition every September; you give them what they want. This is the thanks you get," Buccieri said.

Epiphany of Our Lord has been a pillar of the mostly Italian-American South Philadelphia community for more than a century and word it's elementary school is going to be closing its doors is like a death in the family that reverberates through many generations.

"My grandparents came here in 1906 and this is was their parish. I've gone to this school. My children have gone to this school. Now, my grandchildren are going to this school. It's really heartbreaking for us," Antonette Malone said.

Many in this congregation are talking about making strong appeals to the archdiocese to reconsider; some are talking about just sending their children to the public schools.