|By Paula Canning|
GRANBY Fund-raising efforts for a new Holyoke Catholic High School officially resumed last Monday when leaders of the capital campaign reached out to the community for help in raising the final $7 million needed to begin construction.
Over the past several months, school officials and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield explored various locations in Holyoke for the school at no avail.
"There is absolutely no place for us in Holyoke," said Sr. Cornelia Roy, principal of Holyoke Catholic.
She explained that many Holyoke Catholic alumni had advocated for finding a possible location in Holyoke, which had been home to the school until it was closed for safety reasons in 2002.
Roy said that the campaign has been ongoing since it began last year, but that "we put the public part on pause to honor the request of alumni to look into finding a place in Holyoke."
Roy said that the campaign managers are going to "continue with our original plan," which is to build the school on a 65 acre lot adjacent to the current location of the school at the former St. Hyacinth Seminary in Granby.
Design plans for the new building, which would accommodate between 400 and 500 students, show a one-story building in the shape of a Celtic Cross.
Roy explained that Holyoke Catholic's current facility has always been viewed as a temporary location, and is "too small for the school's students."
"It was never meant to be a high school but the students have adapted really well to this facility," she said. "The reality is that the building just doesn't meet the needs of the students."
She said the building was meant to house "80 people at most," and that Holyoke Catholic currently has over 400 students attending the school.
If the the campaign reaches its goal, construction on the new school would begin in 2007, with completion slated for 2009, she said.
Campaign efforts have resulted in the raising of $2 million thus far.
She said the the Roman Catholic Diocese has pledged $9 million toward the building, and the school must match that with $9 million in donations by bringing in another $7 million.
Roy said that with "wonderful campaign leaders," raising the remaining $7 million by April 15 is "absolutely possible."
"I think that we are all very confident that we are going to do this," she said.
She said that, after sending out thousands of letters to alumni and members of the community, the campaign is entering a different stage as its leaders have asked alumni to take it upon themselves to contact as many members of their class as possible.
Parents of current students will also be asked to make donations, she said.
Bonnie Dowd, development director for Holyoke Catholic, said that she is "very pleased" with the generous support of alumni and members of the community who had donated to the campaign.
"We have so many people who have partnered with us to help build a new school and we're going to work on growing that list over the next eight months," she said.
She said that meeting the April 15 deadline to raise $7 million, is going to be "a challenge," however she believes that it is one that the campaign organizers are up for.
"I think that if we all work together we can help to build a new home for Holyoke Catholic," she said, adding that "the best of Holyoke Catholic is yet to be."
"It's about supporting and believing in the mission of Holyoke Catholic no matter where it is," she said. "It's the soul of Holyoke Catholic, not just the structure that is important here."