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Diocese receives settlement to rebuild Cathedral

Sept. 12, 2013
<b>During a Sept. 10 press conference, Bishop Timothy McDonnell said Cathedral High School “has a future.”</b> <br>Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs

During a Sept. 10 press conference, Bishop Timothy McDonnell said Cathedral High School “has a future.”
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs

By G. Michael Dobbs


SPRINGFIELD – While Bishop Timothy McDonnell said Cathedral High School has a future role to play in Catholic education, that role will be diminished in terms of student body.

McDonnell and other officials from the Springfield Diocese announced on Sept. 10 a resolution has been formally reached between the diocese and its insurance company, Catholic Mutual, over the damage to Cathedral High School, St. Michael’s Middle School, St. Michael’s Preschool and Priest Residence and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church during the June 1, 2011 tornado.

The settlement also covers repairs to St. Jude Mission in Indian Orchard from damage caused by the July 27, 2011 microburst.

The total award is $59.9 million. The insurance company had already advanced $19.9 million to the diocese and had paid $2 million to cover the cleanup at Cathedral High School. McDonnell said this claim was the largest single claim that Catholic Mutual has ever paid.

Of the total amount, the diocese reported, “$49,490,012 will be assigned to the Cathedral High/St. Michael Academy Middle School building (CHS/SMA) as well as lost contents and other expenses. Of this $8,349,147 has already been paid in expenses through July 31, leaving $41,140,865.”

The $8.3 million has been used to move the two schools into temporary locations.

McDonnell said what happens in the future for the middle school and high school depends upon three factors: a report on the future of Catholic education that is being researched and written by the diocese’s school board and finance council; an assessment of the building’s steel structure to see if any of it can be reused for a new building; and the result of a fundraising effort among the alumni of the school.

McDonnell challenged all alumni of Cathedral prior to 1975 – when the high school had no tuition – to pledge the amount of $9,300, the current tuition, over the course of the next four years to help built the new middle and high school.

He stressed, “The school has a future.”

The new school though, would be much smaller than the Cathedral that was wrecked in the tornado. That building was designed for 3,000 students. McDonnell said a new school would have an enrollment of 250 for the middle school and 300 for the high school.

“We’re keeping the money amount in mind,” McDonnell said of the design of the new building. “We may not have all the bells, but we will have the whistles.”

McDonnell said he hopes that playing fields can be re-established quickly at the site and a field house built, possibly using part of the school’s gym.

Attorney Jack Egan said the settlement came finally after a year long formal review process involving three independent referees who conducted 27 meetings and heard from 30 experts representing each side. They also reviewed 100,000 pages of documents relating to the claim.

Once the hearings concluded in May, the panel of referees took six weeks to render a decision, Egan said.

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