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Archdiocese's plan for Brighton school stuns, infuriates parents

Brighton parents who had hoped to buy a neighborhood parochial school were stunned yesterday after the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston announced that the building would be used for a church tribunal instead.

The announcement this week about Our Lady of the Presentation School in Oak Square drew fire from a district city councilor, who called the archdiocese's decision ''a betrayal of epic proportions" and vowed to support the parents.

''This is going to be a battle like we haven't seen in the city in decades," Councilor Jerry P. McDermott said yesterday.

Bridget Lannery, who has two children in the 80-year-old school, said parents are baffled about why the archdiocese turned them down. The school is slated to close in June.

''It's just appalling; they're putting the tribunal before the kids," Lannery said.

The parents envisioned the creation of a private religious school, with ties to the YMCA and public library branch. The parents said they had offered to pay fair market value for the building. A church appraisal had valued the property at $1.9 million.

Thomas M. O'Brien, a spokesman for the parents, said he met with Bishop Richard G. Lennon in December about the offer to purchase the school. O'Brien said Lennon gave no indication that the archdiocese was considering an alternate use for the property.

''I think that shows a lack of respect for us," O'Brien said yesterday. ''It shows a failure on their part to deal with us openly and honestly. When you add that all up, I would consider that bad faith."

Lennon could not be reached for comment last night.

Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman at Rasky/Baerlein Strategic Communications, the public relations firm hired by the archdiocese, said yesterday, ''At this time, we do not expect the archbishop to revisit his decision."

''It is the archdiocese's hope that the decision not to accept this proposal not be seen as a lack of support for the services this community group seeks to provide," Lynch added. ''The archdiocese, through Catholic Charities and the school's office, is actively involved in providing various services to the community."

Parents had asked O'Malley to reconsider the decision to close the school, which serves about 100 pupils in prekindergarten through sixth-grade. In a letter to O'Malley, O'Brien, who has 7-year-old twins in the school, argued that Presentation has been a ''cornerstone of Oak Square."

A statement released by the parents yesterday said the archdiocese, in ''its naked pursuit of its own self-interest," was ''willing to sacrifice" the community.

On Monday, the archdiocese released a statement that said the building will be used as the new home of Metropolitan Tribunal of Boston, which was housed in the archdiocese's property at 1 Lake St. The property was sold to Boston College.

Connie Paige can be reached at

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