Saying goodbye to St. Gabriel's

NORWOOD, Pa. - May 6, 2012

After 90 years of teaching area children, the school will close June 15th, a victim of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's restructuring of Catholic schools.

"If we can't make our bills, to pay the regular bills that go on for the windows, the gas, the electric, it's a sad thing that we have to decide," Connor said.

People understand the economics involved here and why it's not feasible to keep St. Gabriel's open, but it doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye.

"It's a sad situation for all these small churches to have their schools closing, but, I guess, it's necessary for the overall picture," St. Gabriel's graduate Paul Krupinksi said.

St. Gabe's has just 168 students and will merge next year with St. Madeline/St. Rose into a new school called St. James Regional in Ridley Park.

"I think the brokenheartedness is understandable, at the same time, I think there's a great opportunity," Father Sam Verruni, pastor of St. Gabe's, said.

Today, a farewell Mass was held in the church, which will remain open, and the current St. Gabe's students serenaded the members of the extended St. Gabriel's family.

93-year-old Frank Boyle, St. Gabe's oldest living graduate, toured the school one last time.

He fondly remembers one of his teachers, a nun who kept the class late everyday so she could teach them more.

"We stayed until 5:00 every day. She said 'play football on Saturdays' [and] 'you girls tell your mother you'll be late helping with supper,'" Boyle said.

It was a wonderful day to walk down the halls and through the past for generations of graduates who are all sad to see St. Gabe's go.

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