SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Cathedral students, alumni, parents and neighbors rallied for about an hour in front of Springfield City Hall, and filled the City Hall steps in their purple, Cathedral Panthers gear. But the Diocese wasn’t there.
The Diocese is sticking with its original plan of meeting in small groups to decide the future of Cathedral High School. So for the second time in a month, hundreds of Cathedral supporters met to urge the Diocese to rebuild the tornado-damaged school on Surrey Road in East Forest Park.
Daryl DeVillier told 22News he went to Cathedral High School and so did his children. “That atmosphere in Wilbraham, we’ve tried to do the best that we can with it. But it’s not a true high shcool experience and they deserve better.”
The school was destroyed back in 2011 when the tornado ripped through our area.
During the second half of the rally over at City Hall, Mayor Domenic Sarno and Congressman Richard Neal came to the Diocese to meet with Bishop Mitchell Rozanski. Mayor Sarno told me afterward he believes the meeting went well and he’s remaining optimistic.
Mayor Sarno told 22News the city has spent $1.2 million dollars in the last 3 years to bus Cathedral students to the temporary school site in Wilbraham. He wants Cathedral rebuilt in Springfield.
However, Diocese Spokesman Mark Dupont told 22News the Diocese must consider not just rebuilding, but sustaining, the school. Cathedral’s enrollement has dropped from 2,000 to 300 in the last 30 years.
Emma Devillier, a student, said, “I think that it’s just a number. It’s about more than just the amount of students. I think more the experience you get out of it. We are so prepared for college and the teachers work so hard to help us. Even though it’s such a small amount of students, our sports programs are great with hockey and soccer. I’m a soccer player, and this year we went to the western Mass. semi-finals and it was a great experience.”
Congressman Richard Neal said “There are Catholic high schools across Massachusetts that are at this moment growing and they prosper. It means some effort has to be made on behalf of that initiative.”
Below is a statement sent to 22News from the Diocese:
“Today’s rally showed tremendous support for Cathedral High School, something to be commended. The diocese shares that admiration for this school and what it continues to achieve in the academic and faith formation of our young people. And because of the important role this school has played in the life of our faith community, the diocese has undertaken a process to honestly address the challenges of sustainability which confront it.
The process outlined and implemented by Bishop Mitchell Rozanski in early November is now nearing the completion of its first phase. There will be a review of the findings from both the on-line surveys and facilitated groups before the problem-solving sessions begin in January. While we had hoped to complete both phases by December, there was understandably reluctance from those selected for the second process to give up two days during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Ultimately the goal is to arrive at the best decision not the fastest. Bishop asks for the continued prayers of the entire community.”