The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, along with Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) and St. Joseph’s High School, announced Thursday that SJRMC is willing to donate their South Bend hospital site to St. Joseph’s High School pending a feasibility study.
“Education and healthcare are top priorities of the founders of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, the Sisters of the Holy Cross,” said Nancy R. Hellyer, SJRMC’s President and CEO.
The hospital’s current location south of Cedar Street would be made available after SJRMC moves into its new facility in Edison Lakes.
“The possibility of donating our property for the new St. Joseph’s High School, would be perfect and a fitting way for us to fulfill the Mission of the Sisters of the Holy Cross that has guided us for over 125 years in the community. This is truly an honor for Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center,” Hellyer added.
While the relocation of the high school is one alternative to combat St. Joseph’s growth, it is not the only one. Reverend John M. D’Arcy, bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, says that the high school is also considering renovating its existing site at Michigan Street and Angela Boulevard.
The St. Joseph’s High School administration estimates the new building will cost $43 million whereas renovation would be an estimated $26 million. Bishop D’Arcy says that the Diocese has approved St. Joseph’s High School’s request for an immediate feasibility study to determine if sufficient funds could be raised, which is expected to take six months.
South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke anticipates the growth of the school to illustrate the school’s quality and South Bend’s community-based strength.
“Either location signals a strong and vital commitment to the city of South Bend by St. Joseph’s High school, and our city is honored by the school’s tradition of achievement and community service…Both alternatives present a strong urban presence and reinforcement of private investment in their surrounding neighborhoods,” said Luecke.
“The feasibility study will seek to determine which of these possibilities is more realistic,” said Bishop D’Arcy.
Some concerns the Bishop and St. Joseph’s High School need to address is the possibility of raising such substantial funds without incurring a debt that neither the high school nor the Diocese could handle; and the impact on other schools in the Diocese, including Marian High School.
“We are entering a phase now of investigation, inquiry and prayer for light and guidance. Our diocesan staff will continue to work with all four Catholic high schools so that plans for the future will be sound and so that generations to come may be assured of a splendid Catholic elementary and secondary education,” said D’Arcy.
Should the study, which is expected to conclude December 31, 2007, suggest renovation of the current building, SJRMC will continue to work collaboratively with Mayor Luecke, the City of South Bend and the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization.
“As one of the country’s top Catholic high schools, St. Joe is a light to our community, and having that light on a hilltop is fitting for a school whose graduates include a former governor,” Luecke said.