New regional Catholic school to be named “Pope Francis High School”

Could be first high school ever named after popular pontiff

FILE - In this Saturday, May 2, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis is flanked by rector of the Pontifical North American College James F. Checchio, right, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, left, and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Joseph Edward Kurtz. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – While the location of a new regional Catholic high school has not yet been revealed, we do now know its name. Bishop Mitchell Rozanski announced Friday that the new school will be named Pope Francis High School; a move that could make the school the first ever to be named after the popular pontiff.

The bishop says that he had accepted a recommendation of a committee of 16 students from Cathedral High School and Holyoke Catholic High School, the two entities that will be joined to form the new school. Paul Gagliarducci, the former Hampden-Wilbraham Regional superintendent who has been charged with the task of creating the new school, says that the students felt the name was appropriate for what they are doing.

“The students considered many different options but, in the end, thought that a new start was best represented through a brand new name, and what better one than that honoring the Holy Father,” Gagliarducci told the diocesan news website iObserve.

Not everyone is excited about the possible name change, however. Ryan McCollum of the group Committee for Cathedral Action told 22News they are a little bit concerned about the new school’s marketing.

“There’s 132 year tradition with Cathedral High School. Holyoke Catholic also has a great tradition. With alumni, they might not feel the same kinship toward a new name,” McCollum said, adding that it is that alumni support, both financially and otherwise, that will be essential to the new high school’s success.

There was speculation about the name change prior to the Bishop’s announcement, after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield registered the Internet domain name “popefrancishighschool.com.”

The Diocese is expected to reveal the location of the new school next month. Some of the sites currently under consideration are the Surrey Road site that formerly housed Cathedral, a Diocese-owned property off Brush Hill Ave. in West Springfield, and a property owned by St. Stanislaus Parish on Memorial Drive in Chicopee.

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