Saturday, March 31, 2007

Let me know your thoughts..

Do you want to see a permanent message board established on this page? Perhaps something to continue the memory of Cardinal Brennan for years to come? Any other suggestions of what you would like to see happen? Please let me know.. Email me or post a message.

The next phase..

Finding a school. And not a college..

Will it be Nativity? If not a Hilltopper, will it be Marion? If not being bussed miles away from your house.. perhaps it's Shenendoah Valley High?

The Pottsville REPUBLICAN reporting that Shendodoah Valley is getting ready for an influx of Brennan students.

The Bishop's claim that Catholic education is alive and well in Northern Schuylkill county about to be put to the test.

A test he came up with.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sales time

> Let the selling begin: Nativity and Marion representatives were at Cardinal Brennan yesterday to give the fine points of why their respective schools are the obvious choices for the kids.
> Cardinal Brennan, after all, will be no more after June of this year. Only a Pope can stop a Bishop in a process like this.. Ratzinger most likely has other things on his plate besides a small town Catholic School in the Coal Region.
> Nativity offered up an idea yesterday: Co-validictorians. This year's junior CB class, if they went to Nativity, would have representation during next year's graduation. A one time only deal.
> Academics, sports, school spirit. All different. New school colors.. a brand new Alma Mater. So many changes awaiting the class of 2008 and 2009.. and 2010. And beyond.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The final march..

Girardville was covered with green yesterday for the annual St Patrick's Day parade.. During the parade, Cardinal Brennan's blue and gold was seen for the final time: The small marching band that was organized a few years back marched through the main street of the town--this year however they teamed with Marian Catholic. Wonder when that was planned?

The talk of the town, though, in many instances was the future of Cardinal Brennan's grounds, the building, and the students and teachers.

There are 168 students now searching for a new school--juniors searching for a high school rather than a college as the Pottsville REPUBLICAN pointed out yesterday..
There's more than 20 teachers without jobs. Though past classes wouldn't know the new fresh faces of the 2000s, they would still be able to go back and see a few faces familiar.

This will be a life changing event--just as it was in Girardville last year and other schools in other states at other times.

Perhaps the most ironic part: One students who had his grade school, Immacuate Heart, close down last year now has his high school, Cardinal Brennan, closed down this year. He will now have to back to a grade school, Trinity in Shenendoah, to complete his eigth grade. That is, of course, if he continues in Catholic school.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Principal Fowler appearing on the front page above the fold in tears..

The history of Cardinal Brennan reprinted in the paper today too.. The REPUBLICAN reporting today:
Rather than visiting colleges this summer, Cardinal Brennan 11th-grader Nicole Henning will tour high schools.
She’s part of the junior class at Cardinal Brennan Junior/Senior High School that will be forced out when the school closes June 8"

So few choices. So little time.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Media reports..

News media orgs picking up the CB story--hours after Bell Tower Blog was the first to break the story of the school closing..

The Pottsville REPUBLICAN


The Bishop wrote in his letter to parents that CB students "will receive a warm and enthusiastic welcome" at Marian High School in Tamaqua or Nativity BVM High School in Pottsville and that seventh and eighth grade instruction will be restored at Trinity Academy at the Father Walter J. Ciszek Education Center In Shenandoah beginning in September...

"Wait until after lunch"

Though some members of the clergy wanted the announcement of CB's closure to wait until after lunch, a few teachers (at least two) began telling class persons during homeroom.. The news quickly began to leak out and reverberate through the area..

The death of Cardinal Brennan High. A fixture in many lives for many years..

More coming.

The deed is done..

> Cardinal Brennan shutting down..
> A very reliable source informs the Bell Tower Blog that after all the debate, Cardinal Brennan will be no more. Teachers are reportedly crying in hallways.. children shocked at the news that everyone knew was coming. It was just a matter of time from the beginning...
> More as it develops. But now, March 23, 2007: The beginning of the end of Cardinal Brennan.
> More coming as I learn information..

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A few interesting facts..

The Allentown MORNING CALL reporting on the possible closure of another school Our Lady of the Angels:
"Further spooking parents was a statement by Principal Sister Regina Elinich, who said that when the study began, ''I was told not to take registration.

Parent George Stianche said that failing to enroll is ''a nail in the coffin'' because it would discourage parents from considering the school.

Parent Chris Henritzy warned that ''if we start failing at the primary level, we can forget about Marian [Catholic High School, Rush Township].''Last year, the diocese closed two schools in northern Schuylkill County, merging them with a third.

Students from Immaculate Heart Elementary School in Girardville and Holy Family School in Frackville will join Father Walter J. Ciszek Elementary School in Shenandoah, the diocese Board of Pastors decided in April 2006.

The combined enrollment for the three schools was 274. Enrollment at Trinity is about 120.

St. John Neumann Regional School in Palmerton and Slatington are asking questions and offering comments on a similar study that started earlier. Studies also are being done at Cardinal Brennan Junior-Senior High School in Ashland.

A busy school closing Spring for Bishop Cullen..

The Alma Mater..

Now presenting a recording of the Cardinal Brennan Alma Mater . .enjoy..

The Alma Mater..

Monday, March 19, 2007

Another day another school

This time Lansford..

Worries among parents that Our Lady of the Angels in Carbon county will close..

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A few stories from around the country..

The weekly weekend reminder: It's not just here.


New York...


And from the Milwaukee JOURNAL SENTINAL
"Declining enrollment in Catholic schools nationwide is reflected in the Catholic elementary school closings in greater Racine, a spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Archdiocese said last week...

"Racine is no different as the diocese as a whole and schools across the country," said Kathleen Hohl, communications director for the Milwaukee Archdiocese."

Same old story. In a lot of places.

Anything can happen this week. Maybe even a phone call back from the Diocese!

Blogging. It's the new media, Bishop!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Matt Kerr name sightings..

While Mr. Matt Kerr apparently didn't have time to get back to a lowly little blogger, he did have the chance to speak to the Pottsville REPUBLICAN:
The Diocesan Parish Council met Thursday night for a meeting in which it was expected to decide on a recommendation regarding the possible closing of the school, which has 168 students in grades 7 through 12.

"They did meet," Kerr said during a telephone conversation Friday. "This is as I expected. Until the process is complete we won’t be making an announcement. The process won’t be complete until the Bishop (The Rev. Edward P. Cullen, Bishop of Allentown) acts on any recommendation he receives."

The Bell Tower Blog has also been informed that another representative of the Diocesan Parish Council was at Cardinal Brennan on Thursday and spoke of how impressed he was with the faculty and student body..

Developing.. soon.
Oh, and Matt, you have my number.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The last snowstorm..

Snow is falling down over East Central Pennsylvania today. And over Cardinal Brennan..

Years of snowball fights. .years of snowstorms causing delays and closings.. today's result was an earlier dismissal..

Perhaps for the last time this year. And maybe for the last time in the history of the school--depending on whatever the end-result will be of the CB decision process.

Years of memories from years of classes.. The school is quiet right now. No students, no teachers.. no nuns, no priests.
The school is empty as the snow falls down from the heavens above..

The snow falling down on the vacant building.. All of the people leaving it today hoped that it would only be temporarily vacant.. and not vacant for good.

Time will tell..

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The clock ticks...

No responses from Matt Kerr. Almost midnight. I guess it wasn't my lucky day.


Tick tock.. looking at the clock. Still nothing to infer from Matt Kerr.

Still no response. Second call made to Diocese.


Left messages with the Diocese press office concerning any and all decisions that may be made today .. no responses as of yet. I will update further if anything comes to my attention..

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Today's POTTSVILLE REPUBLCAN reporting what the Bell Tower blog already has told you.. the Cardinal Brennan decision may take time and wil

This mobile text message is brought to you by Cingular, now the new AT&T

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Letters in the mail..

Bell Tower Blog received a copy of a letter being sent to Bishop Cullen from a parent of students at Cardinal Brennan.. Hundreds of letters similar to this are on their way to the Bishop and others..

March 12, 2007

Most Rev. Edward P. Cullen, D.D.

4029 W. Tilghman St.

PO Box F

Allentown, PA, 18105-1538

Diocesan Council

Attn.: All Members
Your Excellency & Members of Council:

I hope you find a moment to read my letter.

Shortly, you will be presented with monumental decision that will affect many students, faculty, staff and parents. I, as many others, pray that you will be guided well to make the best decision possible.

I know that due to many factors, including finances, declining enrollment and a plethora of additional reasons, Cardinal Brennan is being reviewed in to determine it viability for future educational purposes. As expected, folks here are quite distressed about the outcome of your decision and the impact it may have on Northern Schuylkill County. We are still coming to grips with the recent elementary school consolidation and both Frackville and Girardville residents are mourning the loss of their beloved parochial schools.

I wanted to be sure you knew “Cardinal Brennan”. It is a beautiful campus, with historical buildings, stunning architecture and wooded areas that would be hard to recreate anywhere else. I know you have been invited before, but I must beg you, before you make this decision, please come and see our school. Take a walk around. The grounds in spring are a sight to behold. Anyone who appreciates nature could not possibly tour the grounds here and not come away with a feeling of peacefulness and feel just a small step closer to our Creator.

Peer in the trophy case. You can almost hear the crowds cheering due to a game winning shot, or perfectly kicked field goal. Walk through our gym and think about the number of athletes who have spent hours and hours practicing, learning discipline and sportsmanship.

Walk through our classrooms; take a moment to listen to the current education that is being offered to our children at Brennan. You have a teaching staff that any administration can be proud of. The college entrance rates are phenomenal and the SAT scores are second to none. Currently, my children will be able to avail themselves of advanced placement classes, which will make it much easier for them to achieve their future goals.

Walk on the school stage and you can’t help but wonder how many aspiring actors, actresses and vocalists performed here. How many band practices occurred? It is here that so many teens acquired their love of the arts.

Within the last few years, Brennan has replaced windows, built an additional gym and updated the field house. There is much more to do, but I think you will find that the students, staff and alumni aren’t above a little hard work and sacrifice. If we were ever made officially made aware of the sobering financial situation, perhaps we could have offered assistance previously. We can work within our communities and provide proposals that may be realistic from a business perspective.

The future of Brennan is bright. Due to the current construction, we can expand and grow. We can support any type of school should you reconsider the K-12 program. You will find yourself surrounded with hundreds of people who care and are more than willing to work with you.

Please, your Excellency, remember, with your decision many lives will be impacted. Memories and history have already been made here at Brennan. Who knows what the future may hold?

I also pass this letter along to the generous members of the Diocesan Council who I know already volunteer many hours to our Church. I know they have already been cordially invited, but I wanted to extend the invitation one more time. Please…please…before you make such a life altering decision, come and visit! We ask for one more hour of your time. Put a face to the name and a picture in your mind. Then, upon making this assessment, you will know it was decided in good faith. I pray you too, are guided well. The future of my children and hundreds of others are depending on you.


Mother of two current Chargers & two future Chargers

Monday, March 12, 2007

Don't expect anything this week

Though there has been speculation that there would be some form of a decision made regarding Cardinal Brennan's future by March 15, a phone call to the Diocese press office today offers very different information...

The Bell Tower Blog spoke to the Diocese today. On the March 15 date: Don't expect anything this week. The spokesman told me that regardless of what rumors are being circulated, it may be a while before the Bishop makes any final decisions on the future of the school..

On how the decision will be made: No clue.

The official I spoke to also told me that there has been no official decision on how the Diocese will disperse information on the Cardinal Brennan once it has been made..

A source to the Bell Tower Blog also confirms that there was an official from the Pastoral Council at Cardinal Brennan today for a visit.. The source told me that the official from the Council was "very impressed" by the school's facilities, the "spirit," and the teachers.. I will attempt to confirm this information with Cardinal Brennan tomorrow during business hours..

But the big story: There will probably not be anything confirmed for some time, and there is still no word on how exactly a decision will be released once it's made..


More letters.. more schools..

The Allentown MORNING CALL (,0,7080207.story) has running story that may sound eerily familiar: Parents of students at Our Lady of the Angels Academy in Lansford were mailed letters last week telling them that their close may close due to operating costs and enrollment.
Cardinal Brennan gets a mention in the article..Interestingly enough, Diocese Spokesman Matt Kerr said that no studies were planned at Ss. Peter and Paul School in Lehighton; St. Joseph's Regional Academy in Jim Thorpe; St. Jerome Regional School in Tamaqua; any other elementary schools; or Marian High School in Barnesville.
March 15 is almost here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Some other interesting news..

From the Reading EAGLE blog on school consolidation in Berks county:
"The Issue: Some area Catholics suggest the Allentown Diocese should consolidate its two high schools in Berks County rather than build a new Central Catholic High School.
Our Opinion: Those arguments make sense, but the diocese is free to do whatever it wants to do.
The Allentown Diocese has made up its mind. It’s going to relocated Central Catholic High School from Reading to Exeter Township no matter what anyone has to say about it.
That comes despite the fact that several people whose children attend Catholic schools in Berks County have raised a number of very logical objections to the plan"

I offer it up only to show it's happening in a lot of places.. There are going to be a lot of lives and memories effected this year by what the Allentown diocese -- and others across the country for that matter --- decides..

There is also a story from yesterday's Hazleton STANDARD SPEAKER concerning parents challenging the Bishop of Scranton (and mentioning the Bishop of Allentown..
From the story:
"A parents’ group seeking to stop the impending closure of Bishop Hafey Junior/Senior High School has publicly asked to meet with Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino.
But the Committee to Save Bishop Hafey High School and Catholic Education’s newspaper advertisement, placed in the Standard-Speaker Feb. 28, has been met with silence from the diocese"

I was curious

..Something tells me that there are more than a few success stories for Cardinal Brennan graduates..

So tell me at, how did Cardinal Brennan effect your life? Did it help.. did it create a better foundation??

Let me know. . I'd be interested in hearing..

Just curious.

The calender says it all...

The official Cardinal Brennan calender for March 2007 complete with a note on the 15th, (the date that an open house for new students was scheduled): POSTPONED TO BE RESCHEDULED..

Monday, March 5, 2007

Not just here..

Catholic schools being shut down around the country..
St. Louis Missouri..

New Jersey..


Last Catholic school in New Hampshire town closing..

And the news of Cardinal Brennan getting to the West coast..
Blog from Tucson talks about Cardinal Brennan *though they wrongly deemed our local paper the "Potttown" REPUBLICAN..

Other local media on hand for yesterday's meeting..

The Hazleton STANDARD SPEAKER writes..
"Approximately 400 members of the Cardinal Brennan High School community, including students, parents, faculty, administration and alumni, gathered Sunday in the field house on school’s Fountain Springs campus to gather information about the future of the financially struggling high school. The group learned of the scheduled meeting Wednesday of last week in a letter mailed from the Allentown diocese to the home of each student.
According to the letter, the school’s declining enrollment and increasing indebtedness prompted the Diocesan Pastoral Council, at the recent conclusion of the Second Synod, to recommend an examination of the feasibility of continuing to offer Catholic education at Cardinal Brennan.

WNEP report:
"Students brought signs and songs, singing the school's alma mater. The school gym was packed with parents and students, all concerned about their school's future"

Questions and answers

The Pottsville REPUBLICAN printing the official questions and answers from yesterday's meeting..

The stats..

Cardinal Brennan facts..
Nativity facts..
Marian Catholic facts..

A future choice..

The school consolidation may bring about new questions for parents: Where to send their kids..

If and when Cardinal Brennan is closed, parents who have their children enrolled there will have to choose between Nativity BVM, Marion, North Schuylkill, Shenendoah Valley, and whatever other district they may be from..

A tough choice for parents that have juniors ready to be seniors.. Perhaps the toughest for the juniors that won't have that same upperclassman feel..

The rumor lately has been that Nativity BVM, pictured on the left, would be the school that the diocese says will be future school for Cardinal Brennan students.. Brennan, pictured on the right..


Map of Cardinal Brennan..

Nativity BVM map..

The facts: Cardinal Brennan was built in 1926.. Interior is plaster, exterior is brick..

The sales history.. hold your breath
Sisters of IHM sold CB to Bishop Cullen for $1 on February 9, 1998..
95.5 acres.. at stake..

Read more..

The day after..

The Pottsville REPUBLICAN reporting that over 400 were at the meeting ( .. not sure if anyone got a real total or head count, but judging from reports and photographs, it's easy to assume that the number was possibly well above 400..

The theme of the day: Family. The students and alumni fearing the feeling that a loss in the family was about to occur if CB closed.. the theme of the day from the council of priests (a group that some are labeling the Jedi Council, a reference to STAR WARS): MONEY $ $ $

Mark E. Smith, secretary of temporal affairs, said that if the current states of affairs continues and CB is kept open, tuition would have to exceed $7,000 per student next year!
I spoke to one parent after the meeting, who was highly involved with organizing the Sunday meeting. He said that while he believes the numbers show that CB could be financially stable and the feasibility exists that it would stay open and succeed, he also believes the decision may have already been reached months ago. "Going through the motions," he told me as he walked away under the cloudy sky..
Perhaps so. Either way, the students yesterday have reasons to be very proud of the motions they went through...

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The song that will stuck in a lot of ears for a long time to come, even if the school goes..

We sing our praise to alma mater the school we all love.
We raise heart and voice in joyous acclaim.
We cherish you and all you teach us.
Blue and gold your colors our fame.
We will be true to the ideals that are strong heritage.
From on high you reign our true beacon light;
Now let's sing out in happy chorus.
Praise to our dear school,
Cardinal Brennan High!

I'm from the graduating class of '99, around the same year we saw a brand new version of the song written for the school by a priest that was just transferred this year to a new parish, himself.

It was a great show of spirit and unity at the meeting tonight.. A proud and peaceful protest that demanded the time and attention of the men and woman up on the stage.

WNEP was there..

The story from their site..

Their newscast tonight showed video of the Alma Mater being sung before the event..

Initial dispatches..

There was a light snow falling down on Cardinal Brennan when parents, students, priests, nuns, parents, media, and other interested parties arrived for the scheduled 2pm meeting about the future of Cardinal Brennan Jr/Sr High..

Several hundred people lined the field house of the school, jammed in to hear the words of the decision makers that will soon announce what they say the fate of CB should be..

The pastoral council was just about to begin their presentation when students erupted in the Alma Mater. Parents and alumni joined in, ending with a stomping, loud applause..

The initial report: Just as some expected. The door has been left open, at least it appears, that CB could possibly stay open.. The next meeting will be mid-month, the council announced.. They'd submit their recommendation on the school to the Bishop, who then would make his decision..

Even though the process sounds official, it also sounded that way before. Other dioceses faced the same types of meetings.. other schools faced the same types of words..

And schools still ended up closing..

Perhaps the same fate for CB awaits. Maybe not. Time will tell.

But at least this day, telephone poles and yards were lined with signs in support of Cardinal Brennan, past and present, and future..

More coming..

Editorial on D Day

A great editorial in today's Pottsville REPUBLICAN

Some thoughts before the storm..

Parents, alumni..students. All ready for today. I am more than certain though that the Allentown diocese is, as well..

An interesting thing happened this weekend. I saw a few folks that attended Cardinal Brennan, and in their old age they have become some of the biggest contributors to the school. Family name withheld.

I brought up the possibility that Cardinal Brennan may close. The husband of the family quickly got up and covered his mouth. I was confused, until his wife said that he has been having chest pains since the news started coming out.. Of course I felt terrible..

But that is exactly what it comes down to: A generation, and a history. The fact that Cardinal Brennan was a private school doesn't make it any less important. I even heard one argument that since CB was so expensive (at least in the last 4 or 5 years especially) the chances it closes won't hurt anyone but rich people... It may come down to a us vs them philosophy for some people, but 'the rich' are not 'the evil'. And the wealthty make sacrifices by sending children to private schools just as 'poor' do.

Furthermore, there have been more than wealthy people that went to CB in its history, granted the wealthy were included with alumni and students. However, percentage wise, since public school districts have more students in general, there will also be rich there, too.

Throughout generations, some principals made it easier for students of a lesser than wealthy background to attend school; years ago Father Frans Berkhout made a promise that any child of any background that wanted a Catholic education would get one.

There's something even bigger, though.

Kids don't go to Church like their parents and godparents.. Kids don't keep the same faith obligations as their ancestors. Things have changed.

And arguably, it's not just the kids. It is also a Church that handles church and school closings in less than respectable ways. It could be the last few years worth of news stories of priests gone bad. It could be the sneaking suspicion that money is a bigger issue than student involvement with Catholic education.

There are a lot of factors that go into this story.. A lot of back stories.. A lot of feelings and emotions. And a like of fears.

Fears for junior class persons that will not have the same chances if their school suddenly shuts down and their parents have to seek out a new school just for one more year.. and then what about colleges..?

A lot of questions. And judging from how Catholic schools have been closed in the Coal Region before, probably not as many answers.

But that won't stop people from fighting for something they believe deep in their hearts is important for their future.. And past.

Today is it..


Friday, March 2, 2007

It's the weekend..

And it's going to be interesting. The stage set now for Sunday's meeting at Cardinal Brennan .. early word have predictions that more than 100 people will show for the meeting. Some alumni getting together. . parents .. former students.. interested parties.. donors that gave money and maybe won't be able to anymore..

Former student writes to paper..

Official questions were sent to the diocese this week as well. Question 14 may hit the hardest: "The bishop once referred to Schuylkill County as the “slum of the diocese.” How does that viewpoint impact the decision to study the feasibility of Cardinal Brennan? Why are we seen as the stepchild of the diocese in every instance except when requesting money?"

I wonder if the questions being compiled by Matt Kerr included the 'slum' reference..

Walking through the valley of darkness gets dark.

Stage set for Sunday. Two hours for over 70 questions.

Oh, if you don't get your question heard, there *drum roll please* will be a chance to write down your question on a small index card and give it the representatives of the diocese that come to Cardinal Brennan's field house.

Oh, and "Kerr said he is unsure if anyone will be permitted to ask questions from the floor".

Silence is deafening.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Questions revealed..

Pottsville REPUBLICAN today has a large list of questions that have been submitted to the diocese on the possibility of Cardinal Brennan closing.. More coming..