Rendering of Pope Francis High School which will be built on the site of Cathedral High School in Springfield Mass Pope Francis High School

Rendering of Pope Francis High School, which will be built on the site of Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass.

Merged Catholic high school will be built at Springfield, Mass., site

Cathedral High School, displaced four years ago by a tornado, and Holyoke Catholic High School in Chicopee will combine, and a new campus, Pope Francis High School, will be built.

Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass., displaced four years ago by a destructive tornado, will merge with another Catholic high school, and a new campus, dubbed Pope Francis High School, will be built on the Cathedral High site.

The high school sustained heavy damage in a June 2011 tornado, and the school was forced to relocate to a vacant elementary school in Wilbraham, Mass. In 2014, a new bishop, Mitchell Rozanski, was appointed to lead the Springfield diocese, and reconstruction of Cathedral was put on hold while Rozanski studied the viability of not only Cathedral but also Holyoke Catholic High School in Chicopee, Mass.

"Both of these beloved schools were facing very real questions of sustainability," Rozanski says. "So today is also not about band-aiding a situation but rather embarking on a path which opens the door for future generations of students.

Earlier this year, Rozanski decided that Cathedral, which has been operating since 1883, would merge with Holyoke, but no decision was made about whether the new school would be in Springfield or Chicopee. Site selection was decided last month.

"After much thought, prayer and consideration I have decided to pursue construction of the new Pope Francis High School in Springfield," Rozanski said.

The Springfield site was chosen because the site "came to us free," the bishop said. He added that the Springfield site is not as centrally situated as diocesan officials would like, "that issue can be addressed through a strategic transportation plan. In fact whatever site we had chosen would have required such a plan."

The diocese anticipates that the new school building will be completed in 2018.

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