St. Thomas More, Scranton, now have permission to open a Parish School

In his July/August Newsletter, after thanking for the congratulations on the birth of his ninth child, Fr. Eric Bergman, pastor of St. Thomas More Ordinariate Parish, Scranton, Pennsylvania, goes on to report:

Our obligation, of course, extends beyond, “Be fruitful and multiply.” We must also educate the children we bear. To this end we began years ago to conceive of a parish school, wherein our children would receive a classical Catholic education with an emphasis on the musical, liturgical, and spiritual traditions unique to our patrimony as converts to the Faith.

We received the final go-ahead for this project on June 24th, the Feast of St. John the Baptist, who like Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, our Patron, was a martyr for marriage. All three men died at the hands of the state because they refused to assent to the king’s insistence upon a lie. While their contemporaries were content to affirm their king’s conceit, these men would not, and as such they are models for us and our children. We must establish the sort of school that educates our children well enough to discern Truth from falsehood, while at the same time giving them the graces to stand firm in that Truth.

Having only just received all these permissions required, we have not yet begun registering our school with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, though a parishioner and I have been to Harrisburg to be briefed on the process, and it is less arduous than I had imagined. Since our goal is to open for the 2016-2017 school year, we will set about this task immediately. We will also finally form our school council, choose our curriculum, create a budget, and advertise our existence.

If you are interested in enrolling your children in St. Thomas More Parish School – or even if you just have questions about our school – please speak with me, as we will rely on word of mouth at least initially to gauge interest and determine how many grades will be offered and how many teachers we must hire. All this information will be used to figure out st-thomas-more-scranton-outsideprecisely where we will locate our school. Ideally we will be on our own campus, but even if this is impossible we must be situated in the Providence section of Scranton. That is, since the church and parish school are to be the anchors for a community of Catholic missionary
families offering an incarnational witness to those struggling through this valley of tears, we can only truly be present with our neighbors if we work and reside in their midst. Our parish’s children already worship in Providence. Soon we hope they will learn here, as well.

The coffee shop and gift store that we will open later this year in the old Guild building will help fund this enterprise (for more information see here), but our reliance will ultimately be upon our heavenly Father, who has already blessed us with all that has enabled our parish to flourish these past ten years*. We’re going to need much more money than our stores’ profits will provide, so please pray this work He has inspired (and for which we received permission from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) will come to fruition by His boundless largesse.

(* St Thomas More is a previously Pastoral Provision parish and has been in existence since 2005, which is quite a bit longer than the Ordinariate. You can read their history here.)

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8 Responses to St. Thomas More, Scranton, now have permission to open a Parish School

  1. When the parish was still a Roman Rite Church didn’t they have a school? Are the buildings still there? Are they functional? Just curious.

  2. EPMS says:

    The school closed in 1984 but the building is still there.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: The school closed in 1984 but the building is still there.

      In that case, there are two practical issues.

      >> 1. Absent regular maintenance, the building is apt to be so dilapidated as to be unsafe to enter. If so, it might be cheaper to level the building and to rebuild than to repair the existing structure.

      >> 2. In any case, a closed building generally must be brought into conformity with present codes before one can reopen it, even to restore its previous use. In the case of a school, this typically includes standards for required facilities such as a gymnasium and a yard of sufficient size for outdoor physical education classes and recess.

      But, in any case, these issues are in the hands of Fr. Bergman and the community of St. Thomas More Parish.

      Norm.

  3. EPMS says:

    If you read Fr Bergman’s account from last Sepember you will see possible arguments for renovation rather than demolition. But as the current newsletter article discusses the choice of location one assumes that the immediate plan is not to use the existing school. “In any casr, these issues are in the hands of Fr Bergman and the St Thomas More Parish” Obviously. I don’t think anyone was proposing that blog readers take a vote.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: If you read Fr Bergman’s account from last Sepember you will see possible arguments for renovation rather than demolition.

      I DID read the item linked in the earlier reply, but I’m also well aware of many instances in which it was cheaper to tear down an abandoned building and rebuild than to repair the abandoned building. It really depends (1) how well the building was maintained prior to abandonment and (2) how long it was abandoned.

      Of course, if the now defunct diocesan parish continued to use the former school building for other purposes (religious education, meeting space for various groups, parish offices, function space, etc.) after closing the school, it probably would have continued to maintain the building until it closed. In that scenario, the condition of the building itself probably is not so bad — but this does not alter the legal requirement to bring it up to current standards in order to reopen it as a school. Even that cost could be prohibitive — and there might also be a need to undo modifications that might have been made for the subsequent use, such as reconfiguring walls and raising urinals to adult height.

      You continued: But as the current newsletter article discusses the choice of location one assumes that the immediate plan is not to use the existing school.

      Yup, so it appears.

      Again, my guess is that it would cost too much to rehabilitate the former school building and to bring it up to current standards.

      Norm.

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