Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy

Catholic Academy gaining favor

Teacher Patricia Kleiber talks to children in a K-1 class at the Pope John Paul II Academy's Lower Mills Campus: Photo by Chris Lovett.Teacher Patricia Kleiber talks to children in a K-1 class at the Pope John Paul II Academy's Lower Mills Campus: Photo by Chris Lovett.

The girls wear plaid jumpers and the boys are in identical clean white shirts. Motley rows of drawings and letters of the alphabet share space on a preschool classroom with a crèche, a crucifix and a morning prayer. At the top of the chalkboard, intertwined with streamers and balloons, is the phrase "Make a Joyful Noise," from Psalm 66.

If the decor evokes a Catholic parish school of 50 years ago, the classroom and the rest of what used to be St. Gregory's has gone through major changes along with four other schools in Dorchester and Mattapan following the closure of St. Peter's and St. Kevin's schools. Since last September, the remaining five have been operating as one regional Catholic school, Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy.  Read more