Two Catholic school facilities to close

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese of Boston announced this week that two Catholic school facilities will not reopen in the fall.

St. Tarcisius School in Framingham will close, said Father Rinaldo Vecchiato, pastor of the parish there. Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester will consolidate from five campuses to four with the closing of the Dorchester Central campus on Centre Street in Dorchester. The announcements were made separately.

Father Vecchiato said St. Tarcisius is closing because of financial reasons and declining enrollment.

“Despite our success, the sad reality is that our parish cannot continue to provide the school the significant financial support it requires,” said Father Vecchiato in a letter to parents and parishioners. “We can no longer afford to draw on parish cash reserves to supplement the school’s low enrollment and resulting revenue shortfall.”

This year, the school enrolled 175 students, and over the last six years it has had an average enrollment of 163.

School officials, in collaboration with the archdiocesan schools office, will hold a meeting for parents to examine other area Catholic schools. The date, time, and location of the meeting has yet to be announced.

St. Tarcisius originally opened in 1959 and was staffed by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Archdiocese of Boston. The school had closed between 1970 and 1980 because of financial pressures resulting from the construction of a new church building.

Kathleen Driscoll, secretary of the board of Pope John Paul II Academy, cited the economic climate as reason for the closure of one of that school’s campuses.

“Working with the pastors and the community, in the formation of the academy, we initially sought to offer parents the greatest number of options, and opened with five campuses,” board secretary Kathleen Driscoll added. “Given the impact of the present economic realities the academy can best offer its students a high-quality Catholic education by bringing four campuses to capacity.”

Driscoll said that the academy has raised $50 million of its $70 million goal.

Enrollment at the academy is down 3 percent this year. Dorchester Central, which is operating at 52 percent of its capacity, has the lowest enrollment among the five campuses and experienced a 10 percent decline last year. Additionally, the Dorchester Central building needs the most renovations among all the school buildings.

Dr. Mary Grassa O’Neill, Secretary for Education and Superintendent for Catholic Schools in the archdiocese, said that Pope John Paul II Academy is the largest Catholic elementary school in the archdiocese, educating 26-percent of all Catholic elementary school students in the city of Boston.

Students from the Dorchester campus will be guaranteed a seat at one of the four remaining campuses.

The faculty and staff at Dorchester Central will have the opportunity to be considered for a position at one of the other campuses of the Academy. The regional director, in collaboration with the principals, will make the placement decisions.