Milestones in Catholic Dorchester

The Honorable Maureen E. Feeney President, Boston City Council Boston City Hall, 5th Floor Boston, MA 02201

Dear President Feeney, Cardinal Sean O'Malley has provided me a copy of your February 15 letter to him, sent via email today, and asked me to respond to on his behalf. Allow me to assure you, first and foremost, that no decisions have been made with regards to Dorchester's Catholic schools. The Archdiocese is just beginning the consultation process in Dorchester, and will follow the process that led to the recent announcement of a plan to strengthen Catholic elementary schools in Brockton. Thus far in Dorchester, the local pastors have met in order that they could share their thoughts concerning the local Catholic schools and their sense of future needs. The next step will involve the 2010 Committee beginning discussions with principals, teachers, parents, city officials and community representatives. Each constituency will have input in contributing to shaping the plan for Dorchester. Unfortunately the Dorchester Reporter mistakenly framed their report as a school-closing story. The dedicated professionals who make up the Archdiocese's 2010 team are committed to strengthening Catholic schools in the Archdiocese and providing the best possible opportunities for the children of our communities. As we begin the process of planning for the future of Catholic schools in Dorchester, declining enrollments and the need for significant capital to upgrade facilities call for attention. In light of these and other factors, to do nothing is not an option. If consolidation of schools is recommended, the Archdiocese we will consult with and hear from the local stakeholders (parishes, the local Catholic schools community, city officials, parents, and clergy) and undertake a thorough analysis before making any decisions. The very earliest any plan could be implemented in Dorchester is 2008, and more likely 2009. We are fortunate that generous and dedicated people like Jack Connors, John Fish (Suffolk Construction), Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. (President of Boston College), Sister Janet Eisner, SND (President of Emmanuel College), and other leaders in the community are lending their support to this important initiative. Thank you for your consideration on this matter. I look forward to working with you and having further discussions as this process begins to take shape. Sincerely,

Edward F. Saunders, Jr. Executive Director

Edward F. Saunders Jr. is the executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference