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Cathedral High School, Holyoke Catholic High School to Merge

SPRINGFIELD — Cathedral High School and Holyoke Catholic High School will be merged into a new, regional Catholic High School under a plan announced yesterday by Mitchell Rozanski, bishop of the Diocese of Springfield.

While the site of the merged school has not been determined, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and other Cathedral supporters are still pushing for the school to be rebuilt on the tornado-damaged Surrey Road location where Cathedral had been located.

“No concepts other than a new regional school have been decided,” Rozanski said, noting that Surrey Road is one of several options that will be investigated. The bishop wants the two schools’ students to be merged in a temporary location by the fall of 2016, and for a permanent school to be completed by the fall of 2017, adding that insurance money from the tornado, plus $29 million in Federal Emergency Emergency Management Agency aid, will fund the construction.

“The city of Springfield has supported Cathedral at its temporary home in Wilbraham by providing over $1 million of support in busing as well as assisting with locations for athletic practices and events. We will continue to support Cathedral as long as rebuilding on Surrey Road remains the plan,” Sarno said. “I am hopeful that Bishop Rozanski and the diocese will live up to their commitment made by Bishop [Timothy] McDonnell to rebuild Cathedral, where it belongs, on Surrey Road. The extended Cathedral family and neighborhood deserve nothing less.”

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal agreed, noting in a statement that “my belief that Surrey Road is the best and only location for that facility has not changed. Simply put, when I sought federal assistance from FEMA following the tornado in June 2011, I did so with the understanding that Cathedral High School would be rebuilt on its original site in East Forest Park. That was the purpose of securing public disaster assistance.”

He continued, “it has been nearly four years since the tornado touched down on Surrey Road, and during that time the Cathedral family has been extraordinarily patient and supportive. We have given the diocese space and allowed them to do their due diligence. I don’t think it is unreasonable to suggest that we now deserve answers. The history of Springfield and Cathedral are intertwined, and it is hard to imagine one without the other. That is why I will continue to support the effort to rebuild the regional high school in East Forest Park. In my opinion, it remains the only logical site.”

Since the June 1, 2011, tornado severely damaged Cathedral, its 400 students were relocated to the former Memorial School in Wilbraham, where the diocese has been renting space; enrollment has since declined to just over 200. Meanwhile, Holyoke Catholic was forced to move from its namesake city in 2002 when its building was declared unsafe. After setting up at the former St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in Granby for four years, the school, which has about 250 students, moved into the former Assumption School on Springfield Street in Chicopee, opposite Elms College, in 2006.

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