St. Saviour

Showing Strength in Numbers

In 1 on July 12, 2009 at 10:44 pm

St. Saviour 7/7/09 Photo by Ted Levin

Photo by Ted Levin

For over two months the parents and parishioners at St. Saviour have been protesting the firing of their beloved elementary school principal, James Flanagan, by Fr. Daniel Murphy. Mr. Flanagan was close to retirement when he had one of his most successful years ever in 2008 -2009, with phenomenal state test scores and fundraising that is funding the construction of a state of the art library this summer. He was fired in April by Fr. Murphy. The Diocese of Brooklyn has already issued a finding that Fr. Murphy had failed to follow proper procedures in the firing.

This week parents and parishioners showed unity and strength in their continued fight against Fr. Murphy’s decision by delivering a petition signed by 681 people protesting the firing of Mr. Flanagan to the diocese.

The petition stated:
Despite having served as Principal of Saint Saviour’s Elementary School for the last twenty-five (25) years, Father Murphy has recently decided not to renew the contract of Principal James Flanagan. Mr. Flanagan’s continued dedication and commitment to the children of Saint Saviour’s cannot be questioned. Similarly, the success of Saint Saviour’s Elementary School, at a time when numerous other parochial schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn are closed or closing, is a testament of Mr. Flanagan’s leadership and ability. We, the undersigned, believe that Father Murphy’s unfortunate decision is clearly not in the best interest of either the children of Saint saviour’s Elementary School or Saint Saviour’s Parish. Accordingly we request that either Father Murphy reconsider his decision and offer Mr. Flanagan a new contract for next year, or that the Diocese of Brooklyn look into this matter and, upon confirming the significant and positive role Mr. Flanagan has had and continures to have at Saint Saviour’s Elementary School, that the Diocese make every effort to persuade Fr. Murphy to reverse his unfortunate decision.
This petition represents the enormous support Mr. Flanagan has, as well as the frustration parents and parishioners feel with Fr. Murphy for firing a principal with proven excellence.

In addition to this massive petition, parents have continued to picket on a weekly basis, carrying signs with slogans like “Transparency Equals Fairness”, and “Our Parish is Hurting and Divided Because Of You”, highlighting the division of the parish caused by Fr. Murphy’s unfair treatment of Mr. Flanagan.

Fr. Murphy recently appointed a friend to the principal position who had been praised in the parish bulletin for redecorating the rectory, prompting one parishioner to march with a sign that read “Renovate our Souls, Not the Rectory”. It is unclear if Father Murphy interviewed any other candidates and while parents want to be fair to the appointee, their frustration with Fr. Murphy’s decision making process has caused them to have a complete loss of faith in their pastor.

The huge number of signatures clearly shows the majority of parishioners are offended and upset by Fr. Murphy’s decision.

Parents and Parishioners are praying that the Diocese of Brooklyn will step in and make changes in the leadership that can heal their parish.

“It makes me ill, because I feel like my parish and my faith have been robbed. My family has been attending church at St. Saviour for 3 generations, and I do not want to go because I am so disgusted by Fr. Murphy’s behavior” said lifelong parishioner. “Fr. Murphy has behaved horribly to Mr. Flanagan and has been disrespectful to the parents. I have lost any faith I ever had in him, and I feel like he has taken my parish from me. I only hope and pray that the Diocese will step in.”

“Fr. Murphy’s actions have divided our parish. I hope that the Diocese will take the wishes of the 681 people who signed our petition seriously. If they do not, I fear the loss of faith our parish is experiencing will be permanent.” Said a life long, multi-generational parishioner.

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