In the "News Features" section there are reports about the plans to relocated St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and the decisions to close St. Cyril and Immaculate Conception churches.  Frank Metzler provides a refresher on the status of our former parishes.  Finally, there is a report of an anonymous gift of $1M to St. Francis de Sales School.

During the first week of January we learned of the passing in October 2020 of Charlie Johnson who came to West Catholic from Our Lady of Victory Parish.  As best we can determine, 196 of our classmates have gone to their eternal reward.  

Rich Buzza closes this edition with his "Final Thought".





January 11th, 2020

Dear Member of the West Catholic Prep Community,

We are writing to share some exciting news with you. A year and a half ago, school leadership began the exploration of a potential sale of the parking lot on the West Catholic Prep property. This has been a thoughtful, and thorough process led by the school’s Board of Directors. We are now working with a commercial real estate firm that will be seeking bids to develop the site. This is great news for the West Catholic Prep community and will further strengthen our institution.

Through an agreement with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Faith in the Future Foundation, all of the net proceeds of any potential sale will benefit our student body and the mission of West Catholic Prep by allowing us to make substantial enhancements to our facility and also significantly increase the size of our endowment. This growth in our endowment will greatly enhance available financial aid and scholarships for students, ensuring we are able to continue to recruit the best and brightest young men and women that will build upon the school’s strong legacy.

We’re grateful to the leadership of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Faith in the Future Foundation for being very supportive throughout this process and making a commitment to ensure that proceeds of any potential sale will be of direct benefit to the school and its mission.

We’re also grateful to the Spruce Hill Community Association and Philadelphia City Council with whom our Board worked closely to receive a zoning variance, significantly increasing the value of prospective development of the parking lot. We plan to work with the firm that will eventually develop the site to secure parking for staff and guests as part of any potential agreement.

Please know that we are appreciative of your support as we get this process underway and we will continue to keep our alumni community updated as we have news to share. We are committed to the long-term success and sustainability of West Catholic Preparatory High School, just like you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to be in touch with us directly.


Andrew Brady ’02                                                                                          Jessica Wolf Dasher
Interim President                                                                                            Board Chairwoman
West Catholic Preparatory High School                                      West Catholic Preparatory High School




File photo by Sarah Webb

By Matthew Gambino • Posted December 10, 2020

Gwynedd Mercy University and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary have agreed to take the first steps toward relocating the seminary’s programs on the university’s Lower Gwynedd Township, Montgomery County campus, according to a letter by the institutions’ leadership sent to clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Wednesday, Dec. 9.

The letter of intent was signed Dec. 4 by Deanne D’Emilio, university president, and Bishop Timothy Senior, seminary rector.

The letter calls for relocating the seminary 20 miles north from its longtime home in Wynnewood, which was sold last year to Main Line Health, to a 15-acre tract on the north side of the Gwynedd Mercy campus.

The plot now houses two university buildings, Alexandria Hall and Visitation House, used for residential housing and campus ministry functions. Those functions would be transitioned to others buildings on Gwynedd Mercy’s campus, according to the letter.

While the letter noted “many contingencies will need to be satisfied before any plans could move forward,” it estimated the sale will be concluded in “approximately two to three years if all of the conditions are met.”

When the sale of the seminary’s Wynnewood property closed in May 2019 for a reported $43.5 million, according to financial statements, the seminary had a window of up to five years to relocate its programs. A possible conclusion of the transaction in 2023 could be accomplished within that time frame.

No terms of the agreement with Gwynedd Mercy including an estimated price of the transaction or total anticipated costs for moving the seminary’s programs were divulged in the letter.

“Following a period of due diligence, the next step in the process is to execute a final agreement of sale,” the letter read. “We will share more specifics on the seminary’s plans for the property at that time.”

While the two institutions will maintain separate identities, programs and governance on the one campus, in the future “it might make sense to explore potential synergies,” the letter read.


An illustration shows the Gwynedd Mercy University campus with a proposed location for St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, according to a letter of intent between the two institutions to explore a relocation plan for the seminary from its current Wynnewood location. (via Google Maps)


Both D’Emilio and Bishop Senior said they were “excited about the potential long-term benefits for our students and the community by having two respected Catholic institutions work and live in proximity to each other.”

The move to Gwynedd would culminate an approximately eight-year process to relocate the seminary. Its program of priestly formation began in 1832 in the bishop’s rectory in Philadelphia, and was moved to other locations before settling into Wynnewood – first with the Theology Division in 1871 and the College Division in 1929.

Plans stirred in 2017 to relocate to a plot on the campus of Neumann University in Delaware County. A letter of intent was signed in 2019 with the Sisters of St. Francis, who sponsor the university, to develop 45 acres for $2 million.

But that plan fell through, and attention turned to available space at Gwynedd Mercy University.

Based on the projected cost of developing a campus in Delaware County, the significantly smaller tract in Gwynedd likely would be lower in cost as well.

Clearly a smaller institutional footprint than the 75-acre Wynnewood seminary campus with its 630,000 square feet of space in 19 buildings is needed for St. Charles Seminary’s priestly formation programs of the current time.

At the start of this academic year a total 156 seminarians from several dioceses and religious orders plus the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are enrolled at St. Charles, with 74 studying for Philadelphia in all programs.

Living space at the new location would accommodate at current levels the 19 seminarians studying for Philadelphia in the College Division (years I-IV) and the 26 Philadelphians in Theology (years I-IV), in addition to men from other dioceses and religious orders.

Also enrolled are 11 Philadelphians in pre-theology programs.

The Spiritual Year accommodates 11 Philadelphia seminarians from its base at St. Matthew Parish, Conshohocken, Montgomery County.



By Matthew Gambino • Posted December 6, 2020


Two Catholic churches that have not been used for about two years will be formally closed and may be sold, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Sunday, Dec. 6. 

Immaculate Conception Church, on Front Street in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia, and St. Cyril of Alexandria Church in East Lansdowne, Delaware County, will be relegated to the status under canon law of a "profane but not sordid use,"meaning they "will no longer serve as worship sites of their respective parishes and will close as Roman Catholic churches," according to a release by the archdiocese.

Both had been merged with nearby parishes in recent years, and the news was communicated to parishioners at this weekend's Masses.



St. Cyril, founded in 1928, merged in 2013 with St. Philomena Parish in Lansdowne, located less than a mile away. While a worship site of St. Philomena, regular Masses had not been celebrated at St. Cyril's since Christmas 2018. Occasional Masses had been celebrated there for the students of St. Cyril School, an Independence Mission School on the campus.

The merger of the parishes meant that St. Philomena assumed "significant debt" of St. Cyril Parish, according to the archdiocese, which did not specify the amount of debt.

At the same time, the slate roof of St. Cyril Church needed to be replaced at a cost of approximately $1 million, a cost that St. Philomena Parish was unable to afford.

"Selling the property would relieve St. Philomena Parish of financial strain in attempting to correct the roofing and significantly help remove the parish debt and stabilize its finances," the archdiocesan statement read.

The last St. Philomena's saw average attendance at weekend Masses of 776 faithful, among the 1,192 households of the parish, according to 2018 data.

Leadership of St. Philomena, including the pastor, Father Paul Castellani, will decide the future usage or sale of St. Cyril as they aim "for continued parish viability and sustainability," the statement read.



Conditions of Immaculate Conception Church, dating to 1869, are even more dire. While it was still a parish, Immaculate Conception began 20 years ago to share a pastor and staff in a "twinning" arrangement with St. Michael Parish.

In 2011 it merged with St. Michael's and became a worship site of that parish.

But by the winter of 2017, Masses at Immaculate Conception "were suspended due to a complete failure of the heating system," and a year later chips of paint suspected of containing lead began falling from the ceiling, according the archdiocesan statement.

Even while temporary heaters had been used at a high cost, the paint problem "led to the total suspension of the building's use as a worship site out of an abundance of caution."

With a new heating system projected to cost up to $80,000 and the cost of a needed roof replacement approaching $280,000, the deferred maintenance could not be accomplished by St. Michael Parish, whose collections amount to less than $1,000 a week.

According to the most recent data in 2018, St. Michael's saw an average of 108 attendees to weekly Mass from a registered population of 193 households.

The leadership councils and parochial administrator of St. Michael Parish, Father Arturo Chagala, will decide the future usage or sale of Immaculate Conception Church.

As in all parish mergers in the archdiocese, both St. Michael's and St. Philomena's assumed the assets and, in this case, the debts of the parishes with which they merged.

Since the plan to relegate the former worship sites to non-Catholic or even secular usage was approved by Archbishop Nelson Perez, the parishes may seek some usage including sale of the buildings to reduce the debt burden to the archdiocese and strengthen the parishes toward sustainability.




  submitted by FRANK METZLER


In past editions of the 1958 Golden Burrs Events Committee Newsletters, the Committee presented the histories of the home Parishes of the 1958 classmates who attended West Catholic Boys' High School.


Those histories reported on the closures of several parishes and their incorporation with a neighboring parish, and where parishes had their names changed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  With all these changes the boundaries of each Parish also changed, each covering a larger geographic territory. 


Here is a reminders of the events that impacted our former parishes.


In 1976 St. James the Greater Parish was consolidated with St. Agatha Parish and the Parish name was changed to St. Agatha-St. James.  Students attend St. Francis de Sales School and St. Ignatius School.


Our Lady of Victory closed in 2005 and was incorporated into Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, which was renamed Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.  It operated from 2005 t0 2013, when it too was incorporated into St. Cyprian Parish, formerly St. Carthage, which  ceased to function in 2000.  Transfiguration Parish also closed in 2000 and was incorporated into St. Cyprian Parish.  St. Cyprian Parish now covers the largest territory in West Philadelphia. 


St. Raphael Parish in the Meadows near the Airport closed in 1989, and was incorporated into St. Irenaeus Parish which was established in 1966.  


In 2004, St. Clement, St. Irenaeus and Good Shepherd were consolidated into a single parish at the site of Good Shepherd.  The new parish was named Divine Mercy. 


Our Lady of Loreto Parish closed in 2000 and was incorporated into St. Barnabas Parish.


Most Blessed Sacrament closed in 2008 and was incorporated into St. Francis de Sales Parish and their school is still staffed by the I.H.M. Sisters.


St. Mary of Czestochowa Parish closed in 2012 and was incorporated with St. Barnabas Parish, which remains open today and the school in still staffed by the I.H.M. Sisters. 


Holy Name of Jesus Parish is open, but the students attend St. Laurentius Catholic School. 


Visitation B.V.M. Parish is still open and the school is staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph.


As you see, all the open Parishes cover larger territories, but fewer Catholics live within these boundaries.  These Parishes have also reduced their scheduled Sunday Masses, according to the Archdiocese Catholic Directory.




By Gina Christian • Posted December 16, 2020


A “secret Santa” dropped off an early Christmas present at a West Philadelphia Catholic school, providing $1 million in tuition assistance for the next two years.

An anonymous individual recently named St. Francis de Sales School as the beneficiary of the donation, which was made through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (EITC and OSTC) programs.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Mary McNulty, the school’s principal, said she was both “very shocked and happy” when notified of the gift.


Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Mary McNulty, principal of St. Francis de Sales School in Philadelphia, addresses local

media at a Dec. 15 presentation of a $1 million gift made to the school by an anonymous donor. (Photo by Gina Christian)


“I felt like God’s blessings were just falling on us,” she said. “I knew how many children and families would be so overjoyed at the news.”

A small number of students joined Sister Mary in the school auditorium Dec. 15, where Jim Downey, development manager of Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS), presented the check to the school during a brief, socially distanced ceremony.

Financial assistance is essential for 93% of St. Francis de Sales’ 462 students, said Sister Mary, adding that tuition is now more than $5,000 per student per year.

“We have children who desperately need this support,” she said. “Their parents do not want them take them out of this school; they want them here.”

And with good reason: St. Francis de Sales has to date produced eight graduates who were named Gates Millennium Scholars and received full scholarships to the colleges of their choice. The school partners with the nearby University of the Sciences for its STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum, and with Villanova University for NovaCANE sessions, which bring university faculty and staff to the classroom to introduce students to structural, environmental, chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering.

St. Francis de Sales also participates in Play on Philly, an intensive music education program consisting of 15 hours of weekly instruction.

With COVID, “half of the students are in person, and half are learning virtually,” said Sister Mary.




Des Butler:  Thanks for keeping us informed on the well-being (or not] of our classmates and for sharing news about FSC events.  Kudos to all who maintain this wonderful service.


Jim Clark:  Thank You Frank, A GREAT WINTER EDITION for sure.      -     Clarkie


Joe Inemer:  Hello Frank, Again a great job putting this newsletter together especially for our class (1958).  Do you have an address for Brother Robert Sentman? We often played together as kids, but lost track of him after high school. Bob lived on the 5300 block of Chester Ave. only a few doors down from Bob Bell.  I lived just around the corner on the 1300 block of 53rd Street between Chester and Springfield Avenue.  Wishing you and your family a blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe 2021 New year,  Joe

Bob Sproul:  Just wanted to Thank You for a job well done and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year sure missed the Burrs at the Beach God Bless.

Msgr. Gene Driscoll:  It is always good to hear the news.  Ed Gannon was a classmate of mine from St. Clement's. 


Brother Steve Casale:   Thanks ever so much, Frank, for all that you do to bring the Newsletter to us.  It means a great deal to me particularly during this time when our lives are so constricted.  The three deceased I did not know; in fact, none of the names or faces are familiar.  We had such a large class.  However, my classmate and neighbor Larry Dempsey was another case.  His death really touched me.  You and yours are in my prayers.


Joe Gavaghan:  Hey Frank, Thank you for making me the "star" of our newsletter.  My family is thrilled beyond words with the extraordinary notoriety you and your crackerjack staff have bestowed on me.  An event that started in suburban Atlanta, GA on to Bensalem, PA, then Wildwood, NJ and then finally finished in Philadelphia.  Merry Christmas and a healthy, safe & happy 2021 to my Burr classmates and their families.  Joe Gav


Gerry Vernot:  Thank you, Frank, for your excellent work on the newsletter.  May you and your family have a safe and wonderful Christmas and New Year. 


Jim Lynch:  Another great job!  Lynchie


Robert Giampietro '68:  Thank you for sharing, Frank!


Joe Gavaghan:  An historic event for the Newsletter:  On Nov. 24, 1904, 2 teammates of Sam McAllester threw him for a touchdown and the victory.  He wore a wide leather belt with sewn in handles on the side and was repeatedly thrown over the line of scrimmage and finally scored.  Tennessee 7, Alabama 0.  This came from the local Bucks County Courier Times and Today in Sports. 


Joe Myers:  Once again, nice job, Frank.  I really appreciate getting information about the West Class of '58.  Sorry to hear that two of my favorite teachers, Brother Gratian Joseph (home room teacher in my Freshman year) his and my first year at the school, and Brother Gregory (French and Religion) both are in nursing facilities.  Had the chance to speak to Bro Greg at our fiftieth reunion.  He was such a gifted teacher with a great sense of humor.  Have fond memories of both of these dedicated men. 


Andy Jaskolka:  Once again I plead your mercy for the cheesy means of communication, but my wishes and sentiments are no less sincere.  May you have a happy Christmas and a much happier (eventually...) New Year!


We all have had an unforeseeable year with more social distancing than we ever imagined.  For those who have suffered loss or unusual illness, you have our sympathy and compassion.  If like us you have made it thus far alive and well (age notwithstanding) we share your own gratitude and urge you to continue to live safely amid the health threats that surround us.


With continued safeguarding and new vaccinations may we be able once again to extend our hearty greetings at the next Christmas season.


All the best to you and yours, 

Andy & Cindy Jaskolka


John Salvey: The guy that donated the million dollars lived in the 6100 block of Walton Ave. and I lived at 6158 Walton.

It's hard to believe I didn't know him after living there for 20 years.  He was only 6 years older than us.


John Staiber:  Hi Frank,  Thank you for keeping us informed and connected with another great newsletter.  You and all your dedicated writers and contributors are the best.  Sorry to read of the passing of Gene Carroll.  It was always fun for me seeing him hanging out with his St. Clement gang at Burr's on the beach.





MEMORIES FROM THE 1940's and 1950's


Bob Bell called to say that he had a number of Calling Cards from the Class of 1958 and that he would mail them to me for publication in the Newsletter.  We had a great time reminiscing about growing up in the 50's, the impact our parishes had on our lives, and the time we spent at West Catholic. 


The total number of cards, excluding 5 duplicates of the ones that were featured in the Fall of 2020 Edition, total 56 classmates and a card each for our Principal Brother John and Vice Principal Brother Thomas.  Because of the large number of cards, they will be featured in alpha order in both this edition and the summer edition.  Hope this brings back memories for all.  Thanks Bob for your assistance with this project.










Bob Bell sent this picture of "The Turkey Bowl" participants which he believes was taken in 1965.







Care for the Sick -Transfiguration Church


WE REMEMBER and ask for your prayers for those who are ill, especially Dave Crines who is recovering from a stroke, Tom Henry who is battling Hodgkin Lymphoma, Brother Robert Sentman who is dealing with back problems, Father Richard McAndrews who has Parkinson's disease and now resides at Little Flower Manor Nursing Home, and Barry Carey who suffered a heart attack in May.


Our Webmaster Jim Prendergast is continuing his battle with cancer.  His current treatment includes Cyberknife Radiation and Chemo.  Jim has a very positive attitude considering all that he has gone through.  Please keep your prayers coming.


Two former teachers from West are in need of prayers; Brother Gregory Cavalier has moved to the nursing home in Lincroft, NJ, and former Brother Gratian Joseph (John Gardiner) is in the beginning stage of Alzheimer's disease.


WE REMEMBER and pray for all of our deceased classmates who have gone to their eternal reward specially Charlie Johnson.  







May Charlie Rest In Peace.







submitted by:  RICH BUZZA




Not too much going on here, the virus is still very much in all of our lives (February 2021).  They have invented three new antiviral vaccines and it seems that all of the people that I know are spending most of their time on their computers trying to locate somewhere, anywhere that they can get this valued covid vaccine.  As most of you reading this know, the wearing of a face mask in public places is still necessary for your or your neighbors protection from the covid 19 virus.  It seems that this year no one gets the flu anymore, always the covid 19 virus, and one of the very toughest things about this covid virus is not being allowed into the hospitals to be with a loved one.  My brother-in-law recently had a serious heart attack and my sister and her son were not allowed to visit him while he was recovering.  Phone calls just don't fill the need to see your husband and hold him and reassure him that everything is going to be alright. 


Another year has gone bye without our Golden Burrs annual luncheon.  I have not spoken to our Committee lately for a potential reschedule date, but to our loyal luncheon attendees, rest assured as soon as this covid thing is over and it is safe to have a get together, we will again have a Blow Out celebration Luncheon.


I am so sick of looking at snow on the ground, I can't wait to see some green grass.  This year, at my house in Pocono Summit, I have over 3 1/2 feet of snow on the ground in my back yard.  This is the most snow that I have seen in 6 years.


I leave you with my final thought that in 4 weeks it will be trout season in Pennsylvania.  I can't wait.




God Bless WEST CATHOLIC!   Live Jesus in our Hearts.  Forever.