First step of 2010 initiative announced for Brockton

BROCKTON -- Over 400 Brockton Catholic school students gathered in St. Edward Elementary School’s auditorium Jan. 29 to hear the announcement that their three schools will become one by September 2007.

The project is the first implemented by the 2010 Initiative, a plan to revitalize schools in the Archdiocese of Boston, announced in August 2005.

Father Brian Smith -- parochial vicar at St. Edith Stein Parish, located next to St. Edward’s -- said that trying to maintain three schools within a mile of each other is no longer feasible.

He said of the new school, “It’s the most responsible use of our resources.”

St. Casimir, St. Edward and Sacred Heart Schools in Brockton will become one school with two campuses. St. Edward’s will welcome students from pre-kindergarten to third grade, and St. Colman’s will take grades four through eight. The St. Colman building is not currently a Catholic school and is leased to two different educational groups, according to Sister Kathleen Fitz Simons, CND, interim superintendent of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Catholic schools.

The St. Edward and St. Colman buildings will go through renovations over the summer, including new classrooms, science labs, roofs, cafeterias and kitchens, gymnasiums, computers and playgrounds. The new school will also add pre-kindergarten classes as well as full-time art, music and language programs.

The cost of the renovations will be “significant” but the archdiocese expects help from private donors, said Terrance Donilon, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Boston.

The two school buildings that will no longer be in use -- St. Casimir and Sacred Heart -- may generate money for the project through sale or lease, he added.

The new school will continue to have an integral relationship with Brockton parishes and will have the capacity to enroll all current students. Tuition will be $3,000 for a family’s first child with discounts for additional children. Financial aid will continue to be available, according to an archdiocesan statement.

Father Francis J. Cloherty, regional vicar and pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Brockton, led the Catholic school children in prayer on Jan. 29.

“Oh God, You love us so much. You have given us our parents who feed us and take care of us,” he prayed. “Another gift You have given us is our Catholic schools -- St. Casmier, St. Edward and Sacred Heart. We love our teachers and our principals. We have so many good friends in our classes. Everyday we are in school we see Your great love coming to us. We thank You for this.”

Then the children shouted “Amen.”

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley also spoke to the children, saying that the 2010 Initiative is meant to secure the quality of Catholic education in the archdiocese.

“The Church is a family, the family of Jesus Christ, and in this family we care for and help one another,” he said. “Parents, families, clergy, religious, lay people at our parishes and schools and the benefactors who see the value of an investment in the children of this community are all here to assure the students that we will provide the help you need --academic excellence firmly grounded in our Catholic faith.”

The cardinal also announced that Stonehill College in Easton will share its resources and assist the new school in training faculty, staff and teachers.

Sister Kathleen brought with her the book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss and opened it to a page where the picture was one of creatures working together to move a mountain.

“We’re looking to move mountains together, to create something new and special for you so that you will be able to go many places,” she told the school children.

After the announcement, Sister Kathleen told The Pilot that she is pleased that the pastors and principals in Brockton are working together and collaborating on the new school project. Similar projects will be planned and implemented in other regions in the archdiocese, she added.

“Each region has its own needs. In each region the picture will look different,” she said.