By G. Michael Dobbs
The spotlight turned last week on whether or not the Diocese of Springfield is going to actually and publically commit to the rebuilding of Cathedral High School on its Surrey Road campus in Springfield.
I’m sure for many people the idea of rebuilding was simply a given. Of course, the school would return to that location in a new building.
That assumption would appear to be incorrect.
With the decline of enrollment at Cathedral over the past several years – a time during which the diocese has closed or merged many parishes – I’m sure the doubts about a new Catholic high school are logical and justified.
I’m not Catholic, but I know that attending a Catholic school was more than just about a quality education. It was an expression of faith and an affirmation of one’s culture.
The terrible irony is what is happening is a crisis of confidence and not among the supporters of Cathedral, but within the leadership of the diocese. By not stating definitively that Cathedral will arise anew, the very people who want to support it believe they cannot.
The diocese is looking for Cathedral alums to make a pledge to donate $9,000 over a three-year period to a fund that would be used to help students with their tuition costs, but have yet to commit to the construction of a new high school. Why would anyone donate such a sum if they could not be assured the school will actually exist?
The worst scenario for some people is Cathedral will not be rebuilt and the property on Surrey Road would be redeveloped in some other way. Let’s face it folks, the Catholic Church is in the real estate business, whether it likes it or not, with the number of vacated churches here. Something must be done with this property eventually.
It’s time for the diocese to speak honestly and openly about the future of Cathedral. If those in power truly believe there is no longer viable student body for the school, then say it and let’s move on.
Cast the first stone
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when there were reactions critical of the sympathetic postings concerning the apparent over-dose death of acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Generally they ran along the lines that if you’re a famous and wealthy person you should have the resources to deal with an addiction problem and if you aren’t successful, you’re not to be pitied.
I particularly love these kinds of sentiments from good churchgoers. Despite the fact Christians are not supposed to be judgmental, too many of us certainly excel in this activity.
Addiction is a disease and treatment for that disease can be difficult. It is a shame when anyone succumbs to a death from addiction. It doesn’t matter if that person is a well-known actor or a person who is simply one of us.
Why some “Christians” believe they are so spotless that they can select a rock to hurl at someone is beyond me.
What about us?
When one of the media panelists asked the Democratic gubernatorial candidates about how they would treat Western Massachusetts, I wasn’t too impressed by their answers with the exception of one: Juliette Kayyem. She said something that seemed of true value.
Kayyem announced she would make sure our region would be represented in her cabinet by appointees from Western Massachusetts.
I know Martha Coakley is from North Adams and that Steve Grossman’s family also has some deep roots here. Did either of them say they would maintain the governor’s office here? Did they say they would look here for talent in their administrations?
Let’s face it. Deval Patrick has been the governor who has best considered our four counties in the last 30 years. When I was on WREB (1982 to 1987) Gov. Michael Dukakis twice brought his entire cabinet out here for a week. That was considered radical.
Thank goodness for us that Patrick owns a home in the Berkshires and had a lieutenant governor from Worcester.
Now if any of these candidates wants to understand more about Western Massachusetts, I’d be happy to take them on a tour, introduce them to some people and tell them about us. Give me a call or drop me an email.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.