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Archdiocese of Chicago Announces New Parish and School Structures for the Bridgeport-area Renew My Church Grouping

November 28, 2018

As part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s revitalization initiative, Renew My Church, the leadership of parishes in the Bridgeport grouping have been meeting to discuss the future church, parish and school structures for the Bridgeport, Canaryville and Chinatown areas of the city. They submitted their feedback to the Archdiocese of Chicago and the following decisions have been approved.

Bridgeport Grouping

The Renew My Church Bridgeport grouping includes the following parishes and schools, all located in Chicago:

  • All Saints-St. Anthony Parish
  • St. Barbara Parish and School
  • Bridgeport Catholic Academy
  • St. Gabriel Parish and School
  • St. Jerome Croatian Parish and School
  • St. Mary of Perpetual Help Parish
  • Nativity of Our Lord Parish
  • Santa Lucia-Santa Maria Incoronata Parish and School
  • St. Therese Chinese Parish and School

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, and the archdiocese’s Presbyteral Council met and, based on the Archdiocesan Commission’s recommendation and other considerations, the Cardinal made several decisions regarding the grouping’s structure. These decisions were shared with parishioners and school families during this evening’s Renew My Church community meeting.

All Saints-St. Anthony Parish, St. Barbara Parish and School, St. Mary of Perpetual Help Parish and St. Therese Chinese Parish and School

St. Therese Chinese School will assume responsibility of St. Barbara School, retaining campuses at both the existing St. Therese Chinese school building and the existing St. Barbara school building, under the St. Therese Chinese School leadership and name. The academic program will include expanded early childhood (pre-K) at the St. Barbara campus with pre-K through 8 at both sites pending enrollment. School leadership structure will consist of one principal with two administrators - one at each site. The school will be led by the current St. Therese Chinese School principal. The current St. Barbara School principal will serve as an administrator at the St. Barbara campus and will remain involved in leadership decisions. Current St. Barbara School students will be automatically accepted into St. Therese Chinese School. St. Barbara School faculty and staff will be given priority status in filling positions at the expanded St. Therese Chinese School.

Cardinal Cupich has requested that further discussion and consultation take place on the future of the parishes of All Saints-St. Anthony, St. Barbara, St. Mary of Perpetual Help and St. Therese Chinese and the Archdiocesan Center for Chinese Apostolate. Therefore, a decision on these parishes will be delayed until at least mid-January 2019.

St. Jerome Croatian Parish and School and Santa Lucia-Santa Maria Incoronata Parish and School

St. Jerome Croatian and Santa Lucia-Santa Maria Incoronata Parishes will unite to form a new parish, effective July 1, 2019. St. Jerome Croatian Church will serve as the active worship site for the new parish, and Santa Lucia-Santa Maria Incoronata Church will close no later than June 2020 at a time determined in consultation with parish leadership, the pastor of the new parish and Archdiocesan leadership. The new parish will have a single school housed on the current campus of St. Jerome Croatian School. Thus, Santa Lucia School will close, effective June 30, 2019. The new parish will be staffed by the Croatian Franciscans.

Student enrollment has been declining at Santa Lucia School for several years, its current enrollment is 42 students. Despite best efforts to recruit students and restore the school to viability, the situation has not improved. Based on this and local demographic projections, moving forward with a single school to serve the united parish was determined to be the best way to ensure long-term quality and sustainability in Catholic school education.

Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Bridgeport Catholic Academy and St. Gabriel Parish and School

The faith communities of Nativity of Our Lord and St. Gabriel Parishes will unite to form one, new parish. Both churches will remain open as active worship sites. Bridgeport Catholic Academy and St. Gabriel School will unite as one school with two campuses to serve this new parish. For the 2019/2020 school year, each campus will be led by its own principal, both reporting to the new pastor of the new, unified parish. Both campuses will provide programming for grades pre-K through 8, and all current students will be invited to re-register. The two campuses will operate under one, combined financial plan. One tuition rate and financial aid process will apply for both campuses. Faculty and support staff will remain employed at both sites assuming they remain in good standing, wish to return, and enrollment levels remain approximately the same. The new pastor and parish and school leadership will continue to evaluate the best long-term leadership and operational structure of the two campuses.

School Transitions

The archdiocese will employ the following processes and procedures to ensure a successful transition for all school families affected by these school changes.

  • Students and school families in good standing will be automatically accepted to the paired school noted above for the 2019/20 school year. Special consideration will be provided for applicants from other closing/unifying schools within the grouping.
  • Families from closing/unifying schools will follow the re-enrollment process/timeline of the welcoming school for the 2019/20 school year.
  • Welcoming schools will host re-enrollment activities at closing/unifying schools.
  • 2019/20 tuition for families with a child currently enrolled at a closing/unifying school will be whichever tuition + fees is lowest between the closing and pairing school.
  • Welcoming schools will work with closing/unifying school families needing financial assistance; families must apply via the welcoming school’s financial assistance process.
  • All schools will refrain from accepting mid-year transfer students among schools in the grouping, so students have a chance to complete the year with their classmates.

Next Steps

At Cardinal Cupich’s request, the Renew My Church team, Bishop Robert Casey, the episcopal vicar for the area, and vicariate staff will re-engage the communities of All Saints-St. Anthony, St. Barbara, St. Mary of Perpetual Help and St. Therese Chinese Parishes and the Archdiocesan Center for Chinese Apostolate to continue discussions about the best possible future for their parish and church structures. A decision on these parishes is delayed until at least mid-January 2019.

Once all parish decisions are complete, the communities will embark upon the next phase of the renewal process to become a stronger, more sustainable presence for the future, capable of reaching more people in their work of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

In the coming months, the archdiocese will work with all involved to ensure an orderly and smooth transition to the new structures. The archdiocese will work with all school faculty and staff of closing/unifying schools to find future employment, ideally within the archdiocesan system. A member of the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Schools will follow up directly with families of students at closing/unifying schools to answer questions and provide assistance.

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