St. Saviour

Pastor Awards Principal Post To Friend

In 1 on July 8, 2009 at 10:39 am

St Saviour Church 7/7/09The Park Slope pastor who fired Jim Flanagan, a beloved veteran principal, for not giving him complimentary tickets to school fundraisers announced the appointment of his friend, Maura Lorenzen, to the principal position. Ms. Lorenzen is a former member of the school finance committee who had pushed to increase tuition at the school.
Fr. Murphy made this appointment despite the fact that the mediation requested by Mr. Flanagan following the Diocese finding that he had been wrongfully terminated has not yet been held.

St Saviour Church 7/7/09 St Saviour Church 7/7/09 St Saviour Church 7/7/09 St Saviour Church 7/7/09

“Fr. Murphy has said there was an ‘erosion of trust’ between himself and Mr. Flanagan, but by firing Mr. Flanagan so he could give a friend the job, he has only shown us that he is the one who cannot be trusted.”
In his letter to parents, Fr. Murphy significantly omitted the fact that the new principal, Maura Lorenzen, had been placed by him on the school finance committee. Fr. Murphy states that Ms. Lorenzen was the director of a local preschool. That preschool’s site, however, described her role as co-director. He also ignored the fact that Ms. Lorenzen’s background is in Early Childhood Education, not Elementary Education. Eighty percent of the Students at St. Saviour, which goes from pre-K through 8th grade, are therefore outside her realm of expertise.
Compounding the appearance of a backroom deal is the fact that Fr. Murphy failed to interview qualified veteran teachers at the school and has failed to answer questions sent to him by the president of the Parent School Board about the hiring and selection.
“When you combine all of this with the fact that Fr. Murphy fired Mr. Flanagan based on petty and false reasons, the whole thing just stinks,” said one disgruntled parishioner.
Donors and alumni of the school have been contacting members of the Friends of St. Saviour to express that they are withholding any further contributions until Fr. Murphy is removed as pastor, citing their erosion of trust in him.
After a series of protests dating back to May 18th, parents, alumni, and parishioners of St. Saviour Elementary School will be lining up again to picket their pastor’s controversial decision to fire the school’s popular, 26 year principal. There will be a peaceful protest on Sunday, July 19th from 11:15 until 12:45. It will be in front of St. Saviour’s Church, 611 8th Ave, Brooklyn 11215.

St Saviour Church 7/7/09

  1. Concerned Outsider No Longer….you are right, we are passionate as it is our children, our School and our Parish. Perhaps you are correct in stating that we cannot see this from an objective point of view since its directly effecting our children. I would suspect you would be somewhat less objective if your children were directly involved. If not, then please accept my apology for being a very concerned and passionate parent of two children at Saint Saviour’s Elementary School.

  2. Concerned Outsider-
    Wow, 30 years of Catholic Education?
    Maybe you should apply for St. Saviour Principal…Oh…Wait…there…is no application process…

  3. You can consider me a “Concerned Outsider” no longer…I have been an educator/administrator for almost 30 years (which does indeed enlighten me with an understanding of children and education) and was made privy to your plight by an article in the paper … am I not correct in assuming that was your intention of going to the press?? So naturally all articles academia are drawn to my attention…but I now realize you are all too passionate and combative to consider the bigger picture from a clearly objective point of view…keep in mind that it is my 16+ years of Cathloic education as well that taught me to be fair minded in all areas of debate, of which you clearly do not want to consider… So I will now cross to the other side of the street to avoid your protests and turn off my computer, but I will rest easy knowing that I made a good-will attemtpt to participate in a community challenge with the ideals and talents that God has awarded me.

    • As somewhat powerless advocates for our school/parish, we feel we’ve been forced out to the streets with our picket signs. I’m sorry that you misunderstood my earlier reply. I did not mean that you were an “Outsider” because you lacked expertise, I just meant that you were an “Outsider” because your kids aren’t in the school and you’re not familiar with the Principal or facts of the case.
      If we DIDN’T display our disapproval there would be no debate.
      If you could give us something more substantial than, “Change promotes growth” to work with, we could really have an enlightened discussion.

  4. With all do respect I don’t think that an outsider, concerned or otherwise, can possibly know how we feel.Any animosity or betrayal has been put upon us by our pastor. This is our school,our church and our parish, our home and has been for generations. You are all missing the point.It is not just a new principal that we are upset about, but the blatant disregard for us as a community that we find appalling. The pastor has conducted the firing of Mr.Flanagan
    in the most unprofessional and unchristianlike manner.

    He knew it was wrong otherwise he would have addressed the entire school and parent body. He was asked repeatedly to meet with us and he refused. Instead of healing the parish he chose to further divide it with his inflammatory and self serving letter. When the questions got too tough for him he went on vacation.Where was our leader? Where was his concern for St.Saviour?

    Concerned outsider, I’m sure you might mean well , but you are just that ,an outsider. Otherwise you would know that we are not a “festering” parochial school. We are a thriving Catholic school.We have a full enrollment and have been held as an example for other Catholic schools. There are many of us who are generations in this neighborhood and in this parish.We sacrifice to give our children the same great Catholic education that we had.
    The people that are worried about strengthening the Catholic schools should send their children to Catholic school, like we do.
    You may find it old fashioned but many of us send our children to SSES for the wonderful traditional Christian values and the outstanding academics.There are many a fine public school in Park Slope and yet we make the sacrifice to send our children to St.Saviour.There is something that our children gain here that is priceless.

    Our pastor wouldn’t know what needs to be changed in our school. How could he? He never comes to the school. The children “drain” him.

    The only change that we see imminent is a hike in tuition.That is how our school will “prosper” with change. It will prosper to benefit the church at the expense of so many families that are already struggling.It is well known that the pastor and his finance committee,of which his current pick for principal was a member,have wanted to raise the tuition.Fr.Murphy himself would not even say what the tuition might be after next year.

    We are putting our energy to the best possible use; to fight for the future of our children ,to save our school and our parish. If we rest, as you suggest,we are giving up what we sacrifice for and what may become unaffordable for many of us. It would be heartbreaking for me if my children could not graduate from the school that their father, aunts and grandparents graduated from.That would hardly be better for my children.

  5. I still find it amazing that all of the attacks against the concerned parents of SSES come from people who have no connection to the School. Apparently concerned outsiders know what is best for our children, our school and our parish.

  6. You are only encouraging feelings of animosity with the disrespectful displays of your disapproval. From all I have read and heard, your school can only prosper under the leadership of the new appointee — one that is highly qualified and respected in the educational community of Park Slope and beyond, having met her once at an educational seminar, I can attest that she is good !! Change promotes growth, too many of your parochial schools are festering because they lack the opportunity for change. The parents within your diocese should be strengthening to save schools. All of your energy could be put to much more superior use. Give change a chance, and all else a rest. Your children will be better for it.

    • Dear Concerned Outsider,

      I only wish an Concerned INSIDER thought so!

    • Perhaps if the new appointee hadn’t been privy to the conversations concerning the firing of our beloved principal, if said person had not been a part of the hand-picked finance committee that wanted to nearly double our tuition, perhaps if she wasn’t one of the pastor’s good friends, then we could “give it a rest.” I’m not saying she isn’t a nice person or maybe a good educator, but the whole process was ugly, unethical and a little too friends-first for our taste. Thanks for your “concerned” opinion though.

    • Concerned Outsider,

      When did peaceful protests and letter writing campaigns (that are ignored every time) to the Diocese become disrespectful acts of animosity? You are basing your opinion of our school on what you “have read and heard’. I am basing mine on what I know and have experienced. You met Ms. Lorenzen ONCE and as an outsider you are sure that she is exactly what our “festering” school needs. First, I assure you our school is not festering. Our test scores are through the roof. The students regularly receive scholarships to the best high schools all over the city and we are over enrolled with a waiting list.. Our school is held up by the Diocese (yes the one who is ignoring us) as an example of the best of Catholic education and has never been in danger of being closed. It is quite significant that this high level of education has been preserved for working families who cannot afford to pay thirteen thousand dollars a year and higher for a quality faith based education for their children. Second, I have met Ms. Lorenzen more than once. I have known her since I am a small child. She is a wonderful woman from a wonderful family and may very well be a superior educator. But we cannot know for sure because this entire debacle has been conducted in secret and every effort has been made to keep the parents in the dark. And let us not be distracted from the real issue at hand. All was well at SSES until ONE person decided that there needed to be a change. ONE Pastor who has contributed the least of all recent Pastors to our school has, for reasons he will not make public, decided that James Flanagan had to go. Considering how seldom Father Murphy bothered with our children or set foot in the school I wonder what known variable he was giving “much thought and prayer” too when he made this decision. I wonder, Concerned outsider, when the tuition bill has increased and lands on my kitchen table, will anyone out there be concerned enough to make up the financial difference so that my kids aren’t out of a school?

      Cheryl Smallman

  7. First off, judging by the disrespectful remarks and signs depicted on your site, it is too late for “not wanting to provoke ill will toward Father Murphy. Secondly, so what if she is his friend? She is an active member of the parish (which doesn’t automatically make her or anyone else for that matter qualified for the job)who happens to be qualified. As for a classroom teacher filling the principal position, ludicrous. A principal in the public school system needs an administrative license. Doubt if this goes for Catholic ed, but it should. How many teachers at SS are in possession of one? In fact, how many of SS teachers are even state certified, a requirement of the Department of Education? Yes, there are dedicated Catholic school teachers who remain teaching in the diocese due to there faith, but believe me, it is the lack of being state certified that prevent many of them from jumping ship to public education, myself included! Finally, as a former Catholic school teacher who taught within the diocese for many years, I have worked under a pastor or two who had APPOINTED a principal without all the hullabaloo your parishioners are creating and the transition went smoothly. Oh, ye of little faith…

    • So first you fire our principal.
      Now you’re going after our successful teachers?
      Your faith is not what is keeping you from leaving your position as a Catholic School Teacher, just your lack of certification?
      We’re at St. Saviour’s because we need help from our kind religious teachers and principal to keep Jesus present in our lives, and while it is true that many students are there because their own public schools are unsafe, or academic failures, what a great bonus for them that they receive an academically rigorous education combined with good Christian values! Its a win/win.

    • Well, I suppose there may be a lack of respect for Fr. Murphy on the part of some enraged parents and parishioners, but is it really any wonder? Our pastor showed a breathtaking lack of respect towards Mr. Flanagan, the students, the parishioners and parents by ignoring diocesan protocols in effectively firing Mr. Flanagan and by utterly failing to acknowledge Mr. Flanagan’s quarter century of service in any meaningful way. The pastor still refuses to publicly address the crisis he created and his failure to involve the school/parish community in his decision-making regarding his new appointee shows, to me, a lack of respect for her as well. But, not matter how understandable, it’s unfortunate that some of the protesters may have allowed themselves to show Fr. Murphy the kind of disrespect he has shown them.

      However, I don’t think anonymously denigrating and impugning successful, dedicated, well-liked Catholic school teachers shows very much….respect, do you?

    • Brooklyn Girl –
      To find an example of a teacher who has become a principal look no further than Our Lady OF Grace here in Brooklyn. FYI all Catholic School principals have the same certifications and meet the same standards as any public school principal. The only difference is that the Diocese allows someone to do the job while they are pursuing the appropriate training. I do not claim to know what certification each teacher in SSES holds but I know they remain in Catholic school because they can’t teach children without being able to celebrate Christmas, pray or say the Pledge of Allegiance. I am confused as to why you are so cynical about these teachers (the very ones who helped make SSES the exemplary institution it is) yet the chronic cronyism practiced by Father Murphy doesn’t bother you at all. It should also be noted that there is a very low turn over among the faculty at SSES and more than a few have been there for more than a decade. “You are my first grandmother!” is something my own mother has heard several times from the teachers who have taught me and now my children. I believe this speaks to their commitment to Catholic education. There are other jobs to be had in the corporate world where they would be making MUCH more money if they sincerely wanted to “jump ship”.

      Cheryl Smallman

    • You can tell yourself that teachers would “jump ship” but I can assure you that there are many certified teachers in Catholic Education who are there because they believe in teaching children within our faith, as there are many public school teachers who send their children to Catholic Schools for the same reasons. Parents make choices and if having Catholic faith incorporated into their children’s learning experience is important, they make the choice and the sacrifice to send their children to Catholic School.
      As for the active member of the parish who has been hired as principal, she also worked at a religious school which promotes itself as teaching the Jewish faith. Why are those teachers there instead of a public school?
      Speaking of disrespectful remarks, your choice of the word ludicrous is rather mean spirited and uninformed. There are in fact at least 3 teachers currently employed at SS that have both administrative experience and licensing. Your whole argument is based on comparing Catholic Education to Public Education. Parents have chosen Catholic Education over Public Education. And Maura Lorenzen has private school experience, and sent her own children to public school, which was her choice.

  8. You people should be ashamed of yourselves. You are twisting and distorting truths in order to further your agenda, or more precisely, vendetta against Father Murphy, a good priest and a good man. You are treating him far more unjustly than you are accusing him of treating Mr. Flanagan. The byline of the article regarding the hiring of a “friend” for principal should read Pilate, as its author is trying to do exactly what Pilate did –incite and provoke ill will toward someone they are threatened by with dire consequences. Be careful what you wish for, often you don’t appreciate a good thing (or person) til it’s gone. As for the caveat next to the comment section, informing posters “‘good’ comments will be cherished, ‘bad’ comments will be deleted, well that just proves my point, Pilate. Maybe you’ll censor this and no one else will see it, but you’ve seen it and now you know what people think of YOU, and it ain’t pretty!

    • Are you saying that he did not chose his friend? Are you saying that he chose her from among the many people who applied for the position? There were no other applicants. And they are very close. It is an awful thing to go against one’s pastor, but sometimes the truth is painful. We do not want to provoke ill will toward Father Murphy. We just want to encourage him to do the right thing.

    • We are “twisting and distorting truths” to further our agenda? To clarify, our “agenda” is to express outrage that
      A) an exemplary servant of Catholic education for 37 years has been thrown out like yesterday’s trash for something “new” on our watch and B) that the parents were lead to believe when they registered their children with non refundable dollars in April that Mr. Flanagan would be our principal in September.
      Brooklyn Girl if you know the truth please use this as a forum to express it. It will be the first time the “truth” has been offered to us and we would be glad to have it. With all due respect I cannot allow you (whoever you are) to cast us as a merry band united by a deep need to assassinate the character of a priest. Whether or not Father Murphy is a good priest or a good man is not now and has never been the issue. How Father used his power is. Father Murphy has dealt a few blows to our school over the last 5 years and not once in that time was Father the object of a campaign of ill will or a vendetta. Whatever hardships our school suffered based on Father Murphy’s decisions have been handled privately and quietly by the parents and faculty. I know this to be “true” because I am one of the parents who has been involved in filling the holes where good will used to be. You are willing to defame us publicly so I ask you to publicly prove us wrong. Please state that you know for a fact, and that it is true, that Ms. Lorenzen was one of many candidates interviewed for the job of principal of SSES. Please tell us for a fact it is UNTRUE that Mr. Flanagan was summoned to a meeting at the Rectory to sign his contract for another year as principal only to find Father Murphy and his lawyer serving him his walking papers. Are you aware that none of the appropriate procedures laid out by the Diocese to guide the lawful termination a principal were followed? I assume that is because none of the procedures outlined how to fire a successful principal who headed a school that was the pride of its district. It seems we are not an uninformed group of evil doers who seek to censor you or anyone (considering that your comment was published) after all. And as for whether or not I am ashamed of myself for standing up for someone whose only sin is that they are not “new” I think that is answered by the fact that I sign my actual name. For 25 years under Mr. Flanagan and several other Pastor’s authority we had no reason to feel “threatened”. Today we do.

      Cheryl Smallman

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