St. Saviour

Our Letters

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  1. From: Gertrude Gilligan
    To: Father Murphy
    Subject: Mr. Flanagan
    Date: May 18, 2009

    Dear Father Murphy,

    I heard today that you fired the principal of our elementary school, Mr. James Flanagan, apparently without due cause. This is very sad, especially since St. Saviour is doing so well academically and maintains a full roster of students.

    My daughter attended St. Saviour when Mr. Flanagan was the principal and I can attest to his personal integrity and high standards for catholic education. Mr. Flanagan really cares about St. Saviour’s School.

    By this arbitrary action of your, you risk the continued viability of a successful school in a time when catholic schools are in cirsis and danger of closing.

    Furthermore, I do not appreciate the manner in which you choose to replace loyal and dedicated employees in our parish. It makes one wonder, who is next?

    Gertrude Gilligan

    CC: Mr. James Flanagan, Principal

  2. Dear Mr. Connolly,
    1) Why would Fr Murphy meet with “parents” who at that time were so violent they verballly abused the teenage volunteer at the Parish House whose only “wrongdoing” was that she answered the phone?
    2) Do you realize that the yearly contract renewal time for all the parishes is May? Did Fr. Murphy change the deadline for refunds?
    3) Fr. Murphy did answer the petition, He said NO. You didn’t like the answer.
    4) Didn’t Fr.Murphy take vacation the same time last year, and the year before that and so on? But this year he took vacation just to avoid the picketers?
    Logic has nothing to do with the virulent anti-fr murphy propaganda that I’ve read on this site, in the press and on the blogs. Prayerfully ~ joanmoore

    • Dear Ms. Moore,
      1. I’m sorry that a Brooklyn teenager actually heard a swear word! He/She must have been devasted! I don’t know who made the call or what was said but it reveals how upset Fr. Murphy has made parishioners.
      2. So I had to watch Mr. Flanagan weep openly at the Kindergarten Graduation during the “Goodbye Song” and you’re going to argue semantics? Father Murphy knew as far back as November that he wasn’t going to renew Mr. Flanagan’s contract. It may have been more charitable to give us all time to work through this debacle had we not been so taken by surprise at the end of the school year.
      3. Fr. Murphy didn’t not answer the petition. Not even with a NO. Perhaps even HE believes it’s too controversial of a decision.
      4. I was not inclined to track Fr. Murphy’s vacations last summer. This summer is quite a bit different.

      Thank you for freshening our resolve to fight back. You’re a busy poster! I’m glad that the YouTube Homily site is bearing the brunt of your diatribes. This is meant to be an advocacy site but I do want you to feel that you can be heard, which is more than I can say for our pastor and his councils.


      Cindy Brolsma

  3. A Letter To Parishioners From Parishioners

    The reason for this letter to our fellow parishioners is to fully inform those who still believe that Fr. Murphy must have had a good reason to fire our long-term principal, Mr. James Flanagan. Fr. Murphy has stated that Mr. Flanagan does not understand the new vision that catholic schools are moving to. Father Murphy used the statement made by Bishop Caggiano that “St. Saviour is not ready for academy status” as a catalyst to fire Mr. Flanagan when the Bishop was actually saying that St. Saviour would be the last to convert because of its excellent standing. This has been confirmed by Bishop Caggiano in a meeting with Mr. Flanagan this past Spring. If Fr. Murphy understood the Preserving The Vision diocesan plan; he would have realized that only schools that are failing and in danger of closing, either for low enrollment or are financially threatened, are considered ready for Academy status. One must assume that either he doesn’t understand the Diocese’s plan for Catholic Education, or he’s manipulated the facts to fulfill his own un-communicated goals. Either option does not bode well for the future of our school’s children. St. Saviour has a student enrollment of 405 with a waiting list and has high academic standings. It is financially stable thanks to the parents’ major fund-raising efforts and thanks to the fiscally sound practices of Principal Flanagan and the parish makes no contributions to the school.

    Preserving the Vision is a term used by the Bishops to bring about an updating of catholic education, which includes combining schools that are failing into Academy status. Fr. Murphy misused the term, Preserving The Vision, and said that St. Saviour will have a new vision with his choice of new principal. The pastor has refused to meet with the parents to share his new vision. The person he hired to replace the highly educated and steadfast catholic layman principal is a woman lacking a professional catholic education and administrative background, and has very little experience in the age group grades K-8. Furthermore the pastor did not bother to interview any of the qualified and dedicated teachers already in the school for this position.

    There is also an issue of preserving the diversity of the school. If the tuition is substantially raised, as has been recommended by the Tuition Board, which includes the newly hired principal, many of the students from less affluent neighborhoods who are now in the school will most likely have to leave.

    There is also a suggestion that Fr. Murphy’s vision includes turning St. Saviour into a charter school. The city will pay rent to the parish and no religion will be allowed in the charter school. Thankfully, Bishop DiMarzio would most likely not allow such a transition unless the school was already closed and standing empty. As a parishioner, ask yourself, do you want to see St. Saviour Elementary School lose it religious status? Do you care about catholic education even if you have no children in the school? Do you care about the next generation of Catholics who will preserve our faith?

    Thank you for reading this note. Much damage has already been done to both the school and the parish. We, both parishioners and the parents of our school children, ask each of you to look again at what is happening here at St. Saviour. If nothing else, this personnel change was done with such gross mismanagement and a total lack of Charity to a long and faithful employee. What kind of example as a parish do we show? Where is Justice?

    August 20th, 2009

    • Who wrote this “letter”? And, which parishioners support it? This seems to be an anonymous cowardly site that is censored to reflect the warped personal anger of the few representing itself as the many. Is this site sanctioned by the diocese, the parish, the pastor? NO. Then why does it present itself as St. Saviour’s blah, blah, blah? Be brave – sign your names to this letter and to the masthead of this site. Am ccing this to the Bishop and Fr Murphy. Know it won’t show up in the comments. Keep up the “good” degrading,disreputable & destructive work.

      • Dear Ms. Moore,
        The letter was a group effort. Our names and faces are easily found all over this site and in the press. If you would like to offer insight into the recent troubles at St. Saviour, your contributions will be welcomed and shared. I’m sorry that the parishioner letter is upsetting to you. It was meant to be educational.
        Yours truly,
        Cindy Brolsma

      • Dear Ms. Moore:

        Speaking of cowardly, I suppose refusing to meet with parents, changing principals after parents sent in their nonrefundable deposits, refusing to answer a petition signed by over 100 parishioners, and taking 4 weeks vacation while parishioners are protesting outside is courageous? I fail to see the logic in your “comments.”


        Cyril Connolly

  4. Office Of The Episcopal Vicars
    Diocese Of Brooklyn
    75 Greene Avenue, P.O. Box C,
    Brooklyn, NY 11202
    718 399-5959 * Fax: 718 399-5927

    July 29, 2009

    Mrs. Cindy Brolsma Gange
    Ocean Parkway
    Brooklyn, NY 11218

    Dear Mrs. Gange:

    Thank you for sending me the binder full of materials concerning St. Saviour’s.

    I appreciate your deep concern for St. Saviour’s Elementary School.

    Sincerely yours,

    Very Rev. Steven A. Ferrari, VE
    Episcopal Vicar


  5. May 31, 2009

    Most Reverend Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio, Ph.D, D.D.
    75 Greene Avenue
    Brooklyn, New York 11238

    Re: Saint Saviour’s Elementary School

    Dear Bishop DiMarzio:

    I am a member of Saint Saviour’s Parish in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Previously, by letter dated May 17, 2009, I wrote to you to address the concerns my wife and I have over Father Murphy’s unfortunate decision not to renew the contract of Principal James Flanagan, who has dedicated the last twenty-five (25) years to Saint Saviour’s Elementary School (“SSES“). The two weeks that have passed since I last wrote to you have been two of the most difficult weeks of my life, as my wife and I, and many of our fellow Parishioner’s struggle to try to convince Father Murphy that he his decision was; (a) wrong; (b) was made solely in his own self-interest; and (c) that he is causing irreparable harm to SSES, our children and our Parish. We have, however, found the unity, strength and faith to continue our struggle. We still remain confident that you will look into our present situation and quickly realize that Fr. Murphy has made an egregious error and will urge him to renew Mr. Flanagan’s contract.

    While I could probably write many more pages concerning our just and noble cause, I am actually writing this letter after having just read your article in The Tablet entitled “Countering Cultural Change” and having had an opportunity to think about all that has transpired in my life as a faithful Catholic just today.

    With great hesitancy, I took part in the parents peaceful protest outside of Saint Saviour’s Church today. Having attended parochial Elementary School and High School, both my wife and I felt very uncomfortable marching in front of our Church, which has been my wife’s Parish for her entire life. We took part, however, as we believe that all of the members of our Parish should know the injustice that has been done to Mr. Flanagan. Our protests have been very successful, as many of our fellow Parishioners, both young and old, have expressed their concern over Fr. Murphy’s decision and their support of our efforts.

    Today’s 10:00 Family Mass, which under our former Pastor, Monsignor Nagle, was always standing room only, was unfortunately only half-full. In his homily, Fr. Tighe, an truly amazing Priest, talked about having the courage to fight for what you believe in. Obviously, as one of the protestors who marched outside the Church, I greatly appreciated Fr. Tighe’s homily as it helped me to understand that, as uncomfortable as I may have felt, it was both important and OK to fight for what I believe in. I later read your article, in which you wrote about the importance of the sanctity of marriage. As you opined in the article, we are not wrong for speaking out in support of our beliefs. I was reminded of the difficulty Miss California faced solely for having done nothing more that having the courage to answer a question honestly and to express her own personal beliefs. Your words also encouraged me to speak up for what I believe is right.

    The 11:30 Mass, however, was not as enjoyable. While Father Murphy has yet to offer any explanation for his decision concerning Mr. Flanagan, his homily today focused on the need for change and his belief that people must accept change and move forward. He discussed how Elvis was replaced by the Beatles and how Shea Stadium was replaced by Citi Field as examples of change. Several parishioners got up and left during the homily. For those of us who are taking part in the peaceful protest, the references to Elvis, the Beatles and the Mets, as an apparent explanation for the change in our school was very troubling. While you may not share in our opinions about the future of our School and Parish, although I hope you do, I am sure you will admit that we are, at the very least, extremely compassionate about this task we have undertaken. We are doing this for the sake of our children, our school and our Parish. The examples of “change” cited by Fr. Murphy appeared to be nothing more than an attempt to trivialize his decision not to renew Mr. Flanagan’s contract. Apparently, as Elvis was replaced by the Beatles, Mr. Flanagan will be replaced by ***** ******** or another one of the progressive Catholics in Fr. Murphy’s inner circle.

    Fr. Murphy’s homily continued to trouble me throughout the rest of the afternoon. After dinner, I read you article, which coincidentally enough, was also about change. Unlike Fr. Murphy’s homily, however, you have advised us that “we must be ever vigilant in trying to counter those who would remake our culture because of changing attitudes.” I am not sure if Fr. Murphy would have received a copy of your article prior to preparing his homily, but note that the contrasting messages were quite striking.

    At the end of the article, you urged us all to write to our State Senators and let them know our opinion on the issue of same sex marriage. As you astutely state, “public opinion does matter when it can be used to influence our elected officials to truly represent the views of all of their constituents.” Please know that I fully intend to write to my State Senators. In the same vain, please realize that the many letters that both you and Bishop Caggiano have received from the parents, alumni and parishioners of Saint Saviour’s were also sent with the belief that, despite Fr. Murphy’s Channel 12 comment to the contrary, our opinions do matter and truly represent the views of many of your Parishioners.

    Please know that it is truly with great reluctance that the parents of Saint Saviour’s have taken this unfortunate situation public. We have reached out to many people for support and guidance and, through these efforts, have made many new friends. One group of fellow Catholics in particular, from Nativity Parish in Cincinnati, Ohio, have been an inspiration as they also faced a similar situation in 2003 and succeeded in saving their beloved principal. To know that other Roman Catholics have taken the same road we have undertaken and succeeded provides us with hope and faith to continue. Their words of encouragement are even more special, as is the knowledge that Nativity Parish is stronger, more vital and more engaged as a result of the parents refusal to simply accept the nonsensical and tyrannical decision of their Pastor.

    As you may have begun to realize, there are many issues at Saint Saviour’s Parish. Presently, our efforts to ensure Mr. Flanagan’s return to SSES and its continued success under his leadership is the most important issue to me, as it directly effects my two children. I apologize for how selfish that may sound but my children are my world and raising them to be proper Catholics is very important to me. Beneath the surface, however, is another much larger issue which I fear threatens to fracture our Parish beyond repair. While Park Slope is certainly a progressive neighborhood, many of Saint Saviour’s Parishioners do not necessarily share the progressive Catholicism which is both practiced and preached by the leadership of Saint Saviour’s. Fr. Murphy has surrounded himself with similar, like-minded laity. As a result, those of us who do not share these same progressive beliefs, and who send our children to our Parish school, are either ignored or summarily dismissed.

    Initially, I once again implore you to look into the matter involving Mr. Flanagan and, upon confirming the significant and positive role Mr. Flanagan has had and continues to have at SSES, respectfully request that you make every effort to persuade Fr. Murphy to reverse his unfortunate and ill informed decision not to offer Mr. Flanigan a new contract. I am not quite sure what I should request concerning the present status of our Parish. I remain confident, however, that through your efforts and assistance, like Nativity Parish, Saint Saviour’s Parish will also emerge stronger, more vital and more engaged.


    cc: Monsignor Kevin B. Noone

  6. May 19,2009

    Dear Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio,

    My name is Joseph Martinez, I attend Xaverian High School. I’m in the 11th grade. The reason I’m writing to you is because I heard that Mr. Flanagan will not be the principal in Saint Saviour school in Brooklyn, NY. My sister attends Saint Saviours and I went there as well. I can tell you from my experience that Mr. Flanagan is one of the best Principals I ever had. From Pre k to second grade I went to P.S 29. Then I went to Sacred Hearts St. Stephen. When it closed I was really sad and upset. When I went to Saint Saviour and met Mr. Flanagan he made me feel really good. I felt so comfortable that it seemed like I was there for many years. Mr. Flanagan doesn’t just sit in his desk all day, he knows everyone’s name, interacts with all the children, visits all the classes, he makes sure that all the kids are doing well, and the most important thing is that he cares for all of the students in Saint Saviour. Two years have passed since I graduated from Saint Saviour. I still visit Mr. Flanagan once in a while, not as much as I would like because of my schedule, and he still remembers me and asks my sister about me. My sister is in 6th grade. She also had to go to Saint Saviour after Sacred Hearts closed. She is really quiet and shy and we were all surprised how happy she is at Saint Saviour. She likes Mr. Flanagan, she feels comfortable with him as her principal. She says that Mr. Flanagan is not like the other principals that you never see and when you see them you are afraid of them.
    I don’t know why Father Murphy is making this decision, but I really feel that Mr. Flanagan is a really good caring principal and he should stay as a principal in Saint Saviour. We can all see that he has been there for 25 years and at the time when all catholic schools were doing bad and closing, Mr. Flanagan kept Saint Saviour open and running good.
    I hope Father Murphy’s decision is not final. I just wish that with this letter, I can help rethink the decision and help Mr. Flanagan and all the children at Saint Saviour School. .


    Joseph A. Martinez

  7. May 27, 2009

    Dear Mrs. Gange,

    I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated May 13, 2009 in which you share your concerns regarding Mr. James Flanagan, Principal of St. Saviour School.

    The Office of the Superintendent – Catholic Schools Support Services has provided guidance to Mr. Flanagan regarding the policies and procedures that he must follow.

    Please know that the Office of the Superintendent – Catholic School Support Services can only provide guidance to Mr. Flanagan, as the office is not the employer. In this light, we have shared your concerns with Fr. Murphy, pastor of St. Saviour R.C. Church.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns.


    Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.

  8. Auto Response Email from Father Murphy
    June 13, 2009

    Hello. I am away until June 27, 2009 and am unable to read your message.

  9. June 8,2009

    Dear Father Murphy,

    It is perplexing that you include a list of rebuttals to gossip in your first official letter to parents announcing the non-renewal of Principal Flanagan’s contract. We also note, sadly, that in your first letter to parents you chose to discuss issues that affect yourself rather than provide answers or healing. We can assure you that none of those issues you raise factor in our argument with your firing our elementary school principal, and serve merely as a distraction from resolving this very serious situation. We look forward to the time when the contrast in educational philosophies between you and Mr. Flanagan is simply put in the light of day. There is no other issue that matters. Until you decide to provide substance this will not be resolved. Mediation is a strong tool in today’s modern society. We suggest you try it.

    It is difficult for a group to reach consensus on how to act, and how to respond, but we have to say that you made our job fairly easy today. This is truly a difficult time for our parish and we as a group of parents and parishioners who are loosely amalgamated as the St. Saviour Preservation Society are open to the debate and truth seeking that is necessary in challenging times. You’ve always told us that if we ever felt that there was a need for a special event or group that could contribute to the strength and vibrancy of our parish, that we should feel free to establish it.

    Yours truly,

    The Saint Saviour Preservation Society

  10. June 8, 2009

    Dear Parents,

    These past several weeks have been ones of tension and anxiety for some of you. Perhaps some clarification on certain issues would be helpful.

    On April 3, 2009 I informed Mr. Flanagan that I was not renewing his contract for the 2009-2010 academic year as principal of Saint Saviour Elementary School. Mr. Flanagan knows that my decision is final. As his employer my decision not to renew Mr. Flanagan’s contract came after a lengthy period of prayer and consultation. In the month prior to April 3rd, I discussed my reasons for this non-renewal with several experts in Catholic education. Each of them supported my reasons and decision.

    Although I have received much approval from parents for my decision, there is a group of parents that have been circulating information that contains completely inaccurate and untrue accusations, which include the following:

    • That I intend to close the school and sell the building. This is a lie; there is absolutely no truth at all in that statement.
    • That I don’t like children. That is just not true. Throughout my 39 years of priesthood I have always enjoyed a special bond with children of all ages.
    • That I refused to go to Methodist hospital to baptize babies that are dying. That is not only a lie but also a calumny, a serious sin against the 8th Commandment.
    • That I “shame the priesthood.” In a written statement to Bishop DiMarzio such a claim was made, however no evidence was given for that cruel accusation.
    • That I said, “if you don’t like it take your children and go.” What was said was give the new principal a year before making any rash decisions.

    A disrespectful and distracting tactic occurred on Pentecost Sunday, May 31st when students from our elementary school were directed by parents to hold picket signs in my direction as I greeted parishioners exiting Mass. I do not believe I need to elaborate on the unfathomable involvement of children in this situation and on this occasion. Furthermore, I have received telephone calls and written correspondences containing profanity and vulgarities. One phone call (from a male parent) used such language to our evening receptionist, a young (female) college student.

    It is understandable that this decision may have raised concerns from some parents. My intention for writing to you is to clarity the fallacies expressed within such a discourteous crusade by some of these parents.

    Father Murphy, Pastor

  11. (A form letter for parents)

    June 9, 2009

    Dear Father Murphy,

    I am writing you as a St. Saviour parent. I would like you to reconsider your decision to fire our principal, Mr. Flanagan. I believe it would be in the best interest of the school for you to renew his contract for one more year so that he may prepare his replacement and guide us to another 26 years of success, stability, and excellence. We would appreciate a dignified and fair process of school governance so that we may rest assured this summer that our school will be strong when we return in September.

    Yours truly,


    Parent of __________________________

  12. Dear Dr. Chadzutko,

    I had my son on St. Saviour’s waiting list for two years before he was eligble to attend the school. I was fortunate to have him, and his brother, attend pre-K through second grade under the leadership of Mr. Flanaghan. There is no other school that I would consider for my children and that is because Mr. Flanaghan is principal of this school. He knows the first and last name of every child in the school. He puts the parents first in every financial decision. He faithfully defends his teachers in the most honorable way possible. He goes out of his way to please everyone else, while placing his own wants and needs last.

    I am shocked and appalled that anyone would consider removing Mr. Flanaghan from his post. It is a terribly thoughtless and heartless thing to do to our children, their teachers, school parents and to Mr. Flanaghan himself. I don’t know how I could explain to my sons that a priest we all think so highly of would do such a cruel thing to the children of St. Saviour.

    At this time, I would easily consider moving our pastor to another parish in order to retain our principal. I know our principal does what is right for us and he has proven that many times. I cannot see that our pastor has anyone’s considerations in mind other than his own.

    Kind Regards,
    Laura Campbell-Lui
    St. Saviour parent

  13. To all the parents at SSES:

    As a working mother of a student at St. Saviour , who would like to be there everyday helping the cause, I would like to take a chance to THANK all of you who have been there everyday fighting the tough fight.

    Thank you and your families

  14. Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Ed. D.
    Superintendent of Schools
    Diocese of Brooklyn
    310 Prospect Park West
    Brooklyn, NY 11215

    Dear Dr. Chadzutko,

    My son started first grade this year at St. Saviour Elementary School. This is in spite of his score in the 98 percentile on the NYC Department of Education Gifted and Talented exam. He was entitled to attend any school with a gifted and talented program in the city. He was on the waiting list for the Berkeley Carroll School as well. However, when I decided to place him in a school I wanted a place where his academic gifts would be nurtured and encouraged. I also wanted a school where he would continue to feel as though he were a part of a family, just as he did at the Midwood Montessori School. Finally, I also wanted his school to provide the same spiritual nurturing and support he has received since infancy. When I visited St. Saviour Elementary School, I realized that I had found the answer to my prayers.

    In that light I am extremely dismayed and concerned to learn that Father Murphy, the pastor of St. Saviour’s parish, has opted not to renew the contract of our principal, Mr. Flanagan. As a teacher and librarian, I am well aware that the key to a successful school is a strong, able principal. I believe we have that in Mr. Flanagan. When I look at the school, I see one that is successfully run and well attended. As you know, finding such a school in New York City is not an easy task. Mr. Flanagan has served the St. Saviour’s community well for 25 years and deserves to continue to do so until his planned retirement. A principal like ours is rare and precious.

    Dr. Chadzutko, I respectfully request that you intercede on the parents and students behalf and have Mr. Flanagan reinstated as our principal. Our children deserve the best and I do not believe that his removal would be in their best interest. Thank you for your kind consideration.


    Catherine G. Aikins Inniss, MS Ed., MLS

    cc: Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
    Bishop Frank Caggiano

  15. Dear Father Murphy,

    My name is Dennis Palmetto and I am the father of Nicole Palmetto who attends St Saviour as a 1st Grade Student. My wife and I are very upset about the news of the decision not to renew Principal Flanagan. St Saviours’ is one of the very few thriving Catholic schools in New York, and it is in my opinion (and most of the parents), because of the “Great” work Mr. Flanagan has done as Principal. I see no rhyme or reason of the decision not to renew him. I ask that you reconsider this decision and if not, have a “Parents only” meeting with you to discuss the reasons behind this.
    We have a soon to be 3 year old waiting to attend St. Saviour and our main concern besides maintaining the “GREAT ACADEMIC” numbers is the tuition costs and keeping tuition affordable. I feel since there was no reason provided that I am left to my own conclusion that the decision was mainly due to raising tuition costs. Is there another reason? It cannot be because of academic performance.

    Thank you,


  16. Dear Dennis,
    Thank you for your concern about our school.
    Dennis, I told Mr. Flanagan of the reasons why I could not renew his contract, reasons supported by 6 pages of documentation. Dr. Chadzutko is aware of the reasons & the documentation. My conversations with Mr. Flanagan were private & should remain private. Dennis, please forward this to the other concerned parents. Thank you.
    FR. Murphy

  17. Most Reverend Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio, Ph.D, D.D.
    75 Green Avenue
    Brooklyn, New York 11238
    Re: Saint Saviour Elementary School

    Dear Bishop DiMarzio:
    I am writing to you in regard to the disturbing situation regarding the contract termination of the principal at St. Saviour Elementary School, where both of my daughters have been enrolled for the last seven years. The reason, timing, and execution of this are highly questionable, and to this date, the parents and children of the school have yet to be notified by the Pastor, Father Murphy. Furthermore, the parent body discovered this news by someone at a neighboring parish, only to find out word of this was out to several parishes for several weeks prior. The personnel change is even listed in the parish bulletin, yet the basic courtesy of proper notification to the parents has not been given. The actions of the Pastor in this situation show a blatant disregard to the parish and school he has been appointed to.
    I know for a fact that this issue was not brought before the Parish Council (as a former member, I have personal e-mails to prove this), but rather an announcement was made at their meeting after word was out to the public. The pattern of actions made by Father Murphy not only in this regard, but in other instances over the last two years (removal of the Music Director, appointing and importing personal friends from his former parish to the positions of Music Director, Director of Religious Education, and Business Manager, and are drawing a salary from parishioners), indicate perhaps an arrogating of authoritative powers vested to an individual whose objective is to implement and oversee the well-being and spiritual core of his parish, which includes an elementary school. Father Murphy has contradicted many of your directives regarding open communication and transparency, the Parish Council, and the further support and strengthening of Catholic elementary schools.
    As a product of Catholic education myself, I believe in Catholic education and have made pro-active commitments to ensure its preservation:
    —I am the President of the Friends of SSES, a group formed two years ago as a benefactor foundation to St. Saviour Elementary School (to date, we have raised over $100,000.00)
    —I am Vice President of the SSES Home School Board Association, Board member for over five years
    —I served on the Pastoral Planning and Parish Council of St. Saviour church for two years
    —I was cantor at the Family Mass at St. Saviour’s church for over five years
    —My daughter is an altar server and Family Mass lector, and has been for the last three years
    From a purely Christian viewpoint, it is disappointing to see Father Murphy dismiss Jim Flanagan in this fashion, on what appears to be more of a personal nature after the principal has devoted over twenty five years of service to the school. From a parent’s perspective, we have already enrolled our children in the school for the following year with the expectation of continued leadership and success. This action is a serious breach of trust and good faith to the children and parents of the school, which begs the question: what is the urgency? Why not have a one or two year transition for all involved so that there is a seamless change of leadership, ensuring success, also allowing Jim Flanagan to retire with dignity? What panel is being formed to ensure the appointing of a principal who will uphold the high standards of the school? This presents serious doubt regarding the future and leaves me to conclude that for reasons unknown, there is a concerted effort here on the part of the Pastor to undermine the long-standing success of this school and to destroy the reputations of both a highly regarded school and principal.
    I sincerely hope you will intervene on the behalf of the children of St. Saviour Elementary School whom have been so casually disregarded, and whose future education is put in jeopardy.


    Catherine Lau Hunt

  18. May 19, 2009

    Most Reverend Frank Joseph Caggiano, Ph.D, D.D.
    75 Greene Avenue
    Brooklyn, NY 11238

    Dear Bishop Caggiano:

    I am a parent of a student in Saint Saviour Elementary School. I have recently learned that Father Murphy, the pastor of St. Saviour, is not renewing the contract of our principal, Mr. James Flanagan. Mr. Flanagan has dedicated the last 25 years to our school. While this news in itself was shocking enough, I understand that Fr. Murphy is not willing to discuss his decision with the parents of St. Saviour Elementary, nor have we received a formal notice of his actions. We, the parents, have lost our confidence and faith in the church and school. St. Saviour Elementary School is flourishing in attendance and enthusiastic children who do not deserve to go through the immoral process of losing their beloved principal. In these days, first class Catholic principals who truly care about and believe in their schools are hard to come by.

    I can attest to this first hand as a former parent (and student) at St. Charles Borromeo School in Brooklyn Heights. I know what it is like to experience a new principal, in fact, 2 new principals within a 2-3 year time span, who did not care about nor devote themselves to the school in the same way the preceding principal did. This kind of turnover within a school can rapidly bring the quality of it down as well as the morale of teachers, students and parents alike. I would hate to see the decline which happened at St. Charles occur at St. Saviour.

    St. Saviour Elementary School truly was a savior to my 2 children after the fire at St. Charles closed the school down. Mr. Flanagan played the most vital role to my family by allowing my children to attend the school at a time when enrollment was already reaching capacity. Only good things had been mentioned to me about St. Saviour and its staff by my mom, the late Ramona Delfino, and formerly the dedicated secretary who served more than 30 years at St. Charles Borromeo School. Mr. Flanagan and his staff welcomed all the children of St. Charles with open arms and helped to ease the difficult transition for them as only a devoted and warm-hearted principal could.

    Additionally, as the parent of a daughter at St. Saviour High School, my faith in the pastor has me concerned that these actions could possibly be repeated there, if not now, then in the future. I am hoping that my youngest daughter will also be attending the high school in a couple of years and would hate to continue investing in my children’s Catholic education amidst such turmoil.

    As we all know, a Catholic education is not cheap, but it is well worth the expense. As a single parent I have made sacrifices to ensure that my children have been raised in an atmosphere that promotes our faith and beliefs. These actions taken by Fr. Murphy have raised many questions for me, especially after my previous experiences. I respectfully request you to look into this situation. Upon confirmation of Mr. Flanagan’s committed role as principal of St. Saviour Elementary School I ask your assistance in persuading Fr. Murphy to alter his decision and renew Mr. Flanagan’s contract as principal.

    Respectfully yours,

    CC: Thomas Chadzutko, Ph. D.

  19. May 17, 2009

    Most Reverend Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio, Ph.D, D.D.
    75 Greene Avenue
    Brooklyn, New York 11238

    Re: Saint Saviour’s Elementary School

    Dear Bishop DiMarzio:

    I am writing this letter on behalf of both my wife and I. Our two children attend St. Saviour’s Elementary School (“SSES”). Last week, we learned that Father Murphy, our Pastor, has decided not to renew the contract of Principal James Flanagan, who has dedicated the last twenty-five (25) years to SSES. We did not learn of this decision from Father Murphy, but instead were advised by other parents from the school. In fact, to date, Father Murphy has failed to formally advise the parents of SSES of his decision concerning Mr. Flanagan, has failed to provide us with any reason for his decision, and has not meet with the parents of SSES to discuss his apparent new vision for the future of our beloved school.

    I write this letter with mixed emotions. My wife and I are proud Catholics who attended Catholic Elementary School and High School (my wife graduated from SSES). We are even more proud of the fact that our children are being raised in the Catholic faith and are fortunate enough to attend SSES. We were raised and taught, by both our parents and our teachers, to always respect our families, teachers, elders and priests. My children are being raised and taught to do the same. It is because of our upbringing and our faith that I must admit that it is with some reservation that I write this letter. While I can solely praise all of the great work that Mr. Flanagan has done for SSES and our children, I feel I must also address some of my concerns about Fr. Murphy’s decision. I do not wish to write anything hurtful or unfair about my Pastor, but believe, at this time, I need to speak my mind in order to try to correct what I believe was an unfortunate decision by Fr. Murphy.

    As I am sure you are aware, in a period where numerous other parochial schools within your Diocese have been closed, or are in the process of closing (including my own former parish, Holy Name), SSES has continued to thrive and flourish. Our children are blessed to obtain not only an incredible scholastic education, but an understanding of the Catholic faith and how to live the life of a good Catholic in all that they do. As you noted on numerous occasions, our children are the future of our faith. Having had the opportunity to observe the children of SSES, including my own two children, I am pleased to say the future of our faith is bright.

    While there are many reasons for the success of SSES, including dedicated teachers and responsible parents, the one constant in SSES has been the leadership and guidance of Mr. Flanagan. Over the last twenty-five (25) years, Mr. Flanagan has devoted his life to the education and spiritual growth of all of the children at SSES. As a member of the SSES Father’s Association, I have been fortunate to witness, first hand, Mr. Flanagan as he interacts with the students, all of who he knows by name. His devotion to his students is unmatched and his ability to run SSES, as evidenced by its continued success, cannot be questioned.

    Despite the forgoing, Fr. Murphy has decided that Mr. Flanagan is apparently no longer capable of serving as Principal for our school. What has particularly troubled me about Fr. Murphy’s decision is that he made this unfortunate decision despite his complete lack of any interaction with SSES. When Fr. Murphy first arrived at Saint Saviour in 2004, he advised many of our parents, including me, that he did not really interact well with children but intended to make every effort to improve in this area. I, for one, applauded his commitment, as Saint Saviour’s parish has a thriving elementary school and our 10:00 A.M. Family Mass, which had been reinstituted by our former Pastor, Monsignor Nagle, was always standing room only. Unfortunately, while Fr. Murphy does teach and regularly visits our Girls High School, I have been advised that Fr. Murphy has not taught or even visited the children in SSES for several years. When he was recently asked by a parent why he never went to SSES, he advised the parent that he didn’t go to the school because it “drains” him. Given his complete lack of any interaction with SSES, I cannot understand how he could make an informed decision as to what is best for our school. As such, his decision to not renew Mr. Flanagan’s contract appears to be arbitrary and capricious.

    Under your leadership, you have previously made clear that the Diocese is not interested in weakening healthy schools. You have also noted that, in these difficult, the input and activity of the parents is essential to the decision making process. In fact, as noted in the May 16, 2009 editorial of The Tablet, “[n]ot only has our diocesan bishop clearly emblazoned his stamp on the preservation of Catholic schools; he has summoned our laity to come to their rescue, laying out a strategy to ensure it.” Fr. Murphy’s actions seem to be in complete contradiction to your vision.

    I am not naïve and understand that, given his age, Mr. Flanagan will not continue to remain as the Principal at SSES for an indefinite period of time. I believe, however, that given his twenty-five years of dedicated service to SSES and the Diocese, he should be permitted to leave on his own terms and with the same grace and dignity which he has exhibited while serving as Principal at SSES. Accordingly, I respectfully request that you look into this matter and, upon confirming the significant and positive role Mr. Flanagan has had and continues to have at SSES, you make every effort to persuade Fr. Murphy to reverse his unfortunate and ill informed decision not to offer Mr. Flanigan a new contract.


  20. Most Reverend Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio, Ph.D, D.D.
    75 Green Avenue
    Brooklyn, New York 11238

    Re: Saint Saviour’s Elementary School
    Dear Bishop DiMarzio:
    I am a parent of two students at St. Saviour’s Elementary School (“SSES”) I am writing to request your intervention in the firing of James Flanagan, our school’s principal. No performance based reason has ever been given to the parents for the decision to fire Mr. Flanagan.
    I believe in Catholic education. As a graduate of St. Saviour High School and Villanova University, the values instilled upon me by my Catholic education remain the cornerstones of my personal and professional life. As a past recipient of the Catholic Lawyer’s Guild Hon. William T. Bellard Award, I have been recognized as an attorney who lives her faith through the way she practices law.
    When I was pregnant with my second child I moved to Park Slope specifically so that my children could attend St. Saviour. My sons have both been receiving an excellent education that stresses the importance of spirituality in a nurturing environment. Mr. Flanagan’s role in that has been extremely important.
    This past October when my father passed away Mr. Flanagan went out of his way to ensure my children were coping with their loss. When he saw my third grader struggling he called me and he worked with our family to help Harry deal with his grief. That type of integrity and caring is unique and irreplaceable.
    Although this story illustrates one example of Mr. Flanagan’s devotion to the children at our school, the overall success of our school shows that his caring extends to all of the families. His devotion to our school has resulted in St. Saviour being widely regarded as one of the best schools in the Diocese. That type of success does not happen by accident.
    Over the last twenty-five (25) years, Mr. Flanagan has devoted his life to the education and spiritual growth of all of the children at SSES. He not only teaches the Catholic faith to his students but provides an example of what it means to be a good Catholic.
    It is my opinion that Fr. Murphy’s decision not to renew his contract has already had and will continue to have a significant negative effect on SSES, its students and the Parish. I respectfully request that you look into this matter and you make every effort to persuade Fr. Murphy to offer Mr. Flanagan a new contract.
    Respectfully submitted,

    Andrea E. Bonina Foad

    Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano

  21. Dear Bishop DiMarzio,

    I am an alumnus of Saint Saviour Elementary School (class of 1986). My children are currently enrolled there in the Pre-kindergarten and sixth grades. I am surrounded by a number of reputable public schools, but when it came time to place my children in school there was no doubt that I would choose St. Saviour’s. Saint Saviour, as a solidly Catholic institution, especially as James Flanagan administers it, was my first and only choice. We are not wealthy people by any means, but it is a financial sacrifice for our children’s education we knew we had to make. I believe Fr. Murphy’s decision to remove Mr. Flanagan as principal is misguided and detrimental to the children of this successful school.

    I graduated SSES and went on to Saint Saviour High School. I then attended a Catholic college where I graduated with honors. I have been married for 13 years with 2 beautiful daughters who are, thanks to Catholic education and Mr. Flanagan, thriving and following in my footsteps. I have written a one-woman show that I produce and market myself to great acclaim. This takes great discipline and a penchant for setting high goals and reaching them. Skills that I learned under the tutelage of Mr. Flanagan and his carefully chosen and dedicated faculty.

    My older daughter refers to SSES as her “second home.” She absolutely adores her friends and teachers. Quite simply we cannot imagine our lives without Saint Saviour. It worries me that it is in the hands of a pastor who would act in such a reckless and belligerent fashion, and with such little regard for its families. Why would a pastor create such turmoil in a school so beloved by so many families, including my own? We seek your help in getting an answer to this question as we have gotten none from the pastor.

    Saint Saviour is not a building. It is a community, with a common goal of nurturing young Catholics. It is the manifestation of Mr. Flanagan’s vision. It works. If that vision does not “work” for Fr. Murphy maybe he should leave rather than upend the lives of over 400 families. It is humiliating to me that in our parish, under Fr. Murphy’s leadership, an employee of the Catholic Church is being publicly bullied out of his job despite his excellent record and the pleas of its families. Whatever Fr. Murphy sees as SSES’s challenges I wonder how Our Lord feels about his response to them.

    Bishop DiMarzio, I respectfully request that the problems with our school, as Father Murphy sees them, be made public to the parents and I assure you that we will work with the Diocese and Mr. Flanagan to rectify them.

    My children are the fourth generation of my family to attend SSES and receive the Sacraments at Saint Saviour Church. In all of our years my family has NEVER seen anything like this. A new Pastor, who is tolerant of our children at best, enters our Parish and unilaterally decides that the best thing for our school is to lose its principal without explanation.

    It is an indisputable fact that Fr. Murphy never intended to have much interaction with the school (he told us this himself). He was true to his word, as in almost five years he has barely entered the school building. However, instead of letting the families, principal and teachers run the school, as we have done successfully, he now wants a major “change,” and has eliminated the input and disrespected the role of its life’s blood, the families, in the process. If you have not seen so, let the pastor speak for himself on Brooklyn News 12, where he says “parents have no say in the selection of the principal” and speaks of this horrible decision in the past tense, as if the Diocese gives no recourse, which we know is not true. Not to mention the degradation of Jim Flanagan who has guided our school for a quarter of a century and made it the place we are so fiercely protecting today. Fr. Murphy also told Brooklyn News 12 that if the parents don’t like his decision we can take our children and leave. This statement is the height of irresponsibility. I highly doubt the Catholic Church wants anyone to leave.

    As I mentioned above, Fr. Murphy has openly stated that he does not care to visit with our children because they “Drain Him.” When I was a child in SSES a day did not go by without a pastoral presence. We saw Father Smith, Father Haggerty and Father “Billy” on a daily basis. They were a part of my development. Monsignor Nagle was a constant presence as well. Why would one choose to be the pastor of a parish with a grammar school if that is how they feel about children? Why would the Diocese let a pastor with his record not scrutinize his decision to radically change a successful school? Please note it is extremely doubtful that some of the teachers and families that form the foundation of the school will still be present after Fr. Murphy implements his “vision” (we are still waiting to hear what it is).

    We hear Fr. Murphy is shocked at the resistance to his decision to terminate Mr. Flanagan? That is more evidence that he is out of touch.

    Catholic education is declining and schools are closing. SSES has been cut off financially from the church (one of Father Murphy’s first orders of business) and we have found a way not only to survive but thrive. I have been heavily involved with fundraising for the school. Most notably for the new library we are putting in with funds we raised privately. This library is in no way a financial drain on the church but is a tremendous step forward in the continuing success of our school.

    SSES is capable of moving briskly into the future with a principal and parent body that is ready willing and able to make certain we remain the excellent institution we are today.

    It is mind boggling to me that at a time when the Catholic Church has to deal with multiple school closings we now suffer a pastor who creates such turmoil in a school that is a model of Catholic education.

    After Fr. Murphy came to the church, a parish council was set up because the laity had asked for more transparency and to be included in the decisions and activities of the parish. Fr. Murphy agreed that he would use them as an advisory board but they were never told that Fr. Murphy was even considering Jim Flanagan’s termination. Obviously, Fr. Murphy has made his disdain for accountability quite obvious.

    As a community, Fr. Murphy does not see us as the Body of Christ. But as obstacles to him achieving his goals. Such goals, by the way, that we are not aware of, and not allowed to ask questions about. Fr. Murphy has declined to meet with any of the school boards. People who have met with him privately and have respectfully BEGGED AND PLEADED with him to reconsider his decision and restore sanity to our community have each received the same brush off and demeaning non-answers.

    This debacle has left such a bad taste in the mouths of so many parishioners and alumni (those who donated the money for the new library) I know they will turn their backs on Saint Saviour because they are angry with Father Murphy and our school and its children will suffer.

    Bishop DiMarzio I am one of the mother’s you will find on the picket line outside of church at 1:00 PM on a school day. We will be there everyday until this nightmare has come to an end. I will talk to the media, passersby, parishioners and ANYONE who I think can help us because we have been left with heavy hearts, no voice and no other choice. I will carry my sign not out of disrespect to Fr. Murphy personally, but to protest a parish thrown into turmoil for the convenience of the pastor and for the children of Saint Saviour Elementary School who are innocent and deserve to keep their second home.


    Cheryl Smallman

  22. The Most Reverend Frank Joseph Caggiano, PH.D,D.D.
    74 Green Avenue
    Brooklyn, NY 11238

    Re: Saint Saviour Elementary School
    May 19, 2009

    Dear Bishop Caggiano,

    My husband is a graduate of St. Patrick’s and Xavarian in Bay Ridge and I am a graduate of Catholic Schools in California and my mother taught at Catholic schools for over 15 years.

    Though we are big believers in Catholic education, when it was time for our children to enter school, we carefully considered all our local education options, touring schools, meeting with teachers and administrators, discussing parents’ personal experiences on line and in person. However when we visited St. Saviour Elementary School (SSES), our parish school, and met with Principal James Flanagan, we knew we had a found a “home” for our two young children.

    We ultimately decided on SSES not only because of the excellent academic education, religious instruction and impressive high school placements, but because of the atmosphere created by Mr. Flanagan. I wanted a school where the children were cared for and cherished and I found it at SSES and as a volunteer at the school, I am reminded weekly of Mr. Flanagan’s dedication and excellence.

    However, as you know, Father Murphy, the Pastor of St. Saviour, has decided not to renew our beloved and successful Principal’s contract. Every SSES parent I have spoken with is shocked and angered by Father Murphy’s decision. As an active participant in my children’s education, I’ve been following “Preserving The Vision” carefully and because of this I am confused by Father Murphy’s decision and his ongoing failure to inform us of his vision of the school and how it differs from the exemplary education they are receiving now under the stewardship of Mr. Flanagan.

    I respectfully request your attention to this matter. We are a successful thriving Catholic School.

    Asking your Excellency’s blessing, I am, yours respectfully,

    Kate Broderick

    cc: Thomas Chudzutko, Ph, D
    Msgr. Kevin B. Noone

  23. May 20, 2009

    Most Reverend Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio, Ph.D, D.D
    75 Green Avenue
    Brooklyn, New York 11238

    Dear Bishop DiMarzio

    I am writing to you with regard to news I just received that has me so incensed, I scarcely know where to begin. I am writing to you with the hope that you can reassure me that either there has been a mistake made which will immediately be corrected or that somehow, the news I received was incorrect.

    I’ve just learned that Mr. James Flanagan, Principal of Saint Saviour Elementary School, a man with twenty five, years of dedicated service has been terminated from his position. Mr. Flanagan is a man who has devoted his life to enriching the lives of his students and making Saint Saviour Elementary the place it is today. His termination is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

    As a student of P.S. 107 in Park Slope, my parents were faced with a difficult decision in June of 1984. I was a poor student coping with dyslexia and had some discipline issues. After graduating from the 5th grade at P.S. 107, I was to continue to I.S. 88. This is a public junior high school which, at the time at least, was known for all of the wrong reasons. It was a place that my academic and disciplinary issues would surely have gotten worse. I.S. 88 would have ultimately be followed by John Jay High School and then most likely, if no sooner, prison. My parents foresaw the chain of events and put a stop to it and in September of 2004, I started at Saint Saviour by repeating the fifth grade.

    Mr. Flanagan, who was also beginning his first year at Saint Saviour, saw the potential in me and took me under his wing. On a handful of early occasions when I was sent to his office for some disciplinary issue, Mr. Flanagan understood my situation and took the kind of action that ensured I would improve my behavior rather than merely seeking a punishment. When I found myself running into academic difficulty, Mr. Flanagan stayed after school with me, free of any charge, to tutor me in the areas I needed assistance with. It did not take very long for me to show a marked improvement in both behavioral and academic areas. With his assistance, I was able to improve myself and by graduation date of Saint Saviour, I had been accepted to Bishop Ford wherein I continued to become a better student and indeed, a better person.

    As I write this letter, I am proud to say that I have continued in the positive direction that I started in when I began attending Saint Saviour and was fortunate enough to meet Mr Flanagan. I am a successful adult; a graduate of Adelphi University and a homeowner with a successful career. Contrary to the direction in which I was heading, I have become a New York City Auxiliary Police Sergeant in the elite Highway Patrol Division and was one of the first rescuers to enter the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. However, none of these things would have come to fruition were it not for Mr. Flanagan and the help he gave me early on.

    During my graduation ceremony, I had the honor of making a speech. Although the speech was planned, neither the ceremony guests nor Mr. Flanagan had advanced notice of it. While at the podium, I recounted to the audience the dedication that Mr. Flanagan had shown to me and my firm belief that he was equally dedicated to the entire student body. It was and continues to be my firm belief that we were all the better for having his dedication. I then asked Mr. Flanagan to come to the podium and accept a plaque I had produced and paid for with my own money. The plaque read “Principal Of The Year”. Over a recent dinner in December of 2008, Mr. Flanagan told me again how moved he was to receive such recognition and that this plaque has been hanging prominently in his office for the last twenty five years.

    This man is not just my elementary school principal; some a distant memory of childhood. James Flanagan continues to be a personal friend. He is a friend that both my parents and I regard as someone who had a profoundly positive affect on my life and helped me become the man I am today. His termination in the wake of the great things he has done for me and the long list of other children he has helped over his 25 years of dedicated service comes as a shocking slap in the face.

    It is my understanding that his termination is based on differences with Saint Saviour Church Pastor, Father Daniel Murphy. Although I don’t know the details of these differences, Jim Flanagan’s history of dedication, hard work, selflessness and devotion to Saint Saviour, his students and friends as well as the Parish are long standing and should speak for themselves. He is loved by the alumni, their parents, his current students and their parents. He is a core element of Saint Saviour Elementary School’s successful, prosperous history and is desperately needed as part of its future. Should Saint Saviour hope to continue its legacy of success, it needs Mr. Flanagan. Taking this into account, it is quite obvious that Father Daniel Murphy does not adequately understand the nature or the history of the parish or the schools he now presides over. Were he to, this egregious mistake would never have taken place because Father Murphy would have recognized how lucky he has been. To ensure that this mistake is not compounded by allowing it to stand, Father Murphy’s management needs to step in and rectify the mistake.

    In closing, Mr. Flanagan is someone I consider to be a personal friend and mentor. He is not just the principle of my elementary school. He is a friend to whom I believe I owe a great deal to and accordingly, it is my sincerest intention to do all that I can to ensure he is returned to his rightful place as Principal of Saint Savior Elementary School.

    I thank you in advance for taking the time to look into this matter and ensure the proper remediation takes place.

    Andrew Valcich
    Saint Saviour Elementary School Class of 1988

    cc: Thomas Chadzutko, Ph.D
    Msgr. Kevin B. Noone

  24. Dear Father Murphy,

    I am a St. Saviour parishoner and a parent of two children who attend our parish school.
    I am shocked, saddened and, frankly, angered, both by your decision to effectively dismiss Mr. Flanagan as Principal of our school and your choice not to involve the parents of the students in your decision. All the parents my wife and I have spoken with share our very strong feelings.
    While I assume our diocese grants you the authority to make this decision in the way you have apparently made it, it does not seem to me to be in keeping with the spirit of Vatican II nor does it seem to coincide with our Bishop’s recent Internet presentation regarding the future of our Catholic schools.
    A transcript of his presentation indicates that the Bishop exhorted us in this way:
    “Together, let us resolve to begin this new chapter in Catholic school education together.”
    Obviously, the Bishop powerfully emphasizes that unity and parent involvement are key to “Preserving the Vision” of our Catholic schools.
    As a faithful St. Saviour parent and parishoner, I respectfully urge you to meet with parents and parishoners this week to openly explain your reasons for not keeping Mr. Flanagan as Principal and to discuss why parents were seemingly excluded from participating in your decision-making.
    Father Murphy, this situation has created intense feelings of alienation and resentment for many St. Saviour parishoners and school parents.
    I firmly believe that we all have an obligation to prayerfully and respectfully examine the current situation, explore all options and work together to preserve the vision of St. Saviour’s School.
    I am confident that, working together, we at St. Saviour can find a way to “preserve the vision.”

    Michael Haigney

  25. May 13, 2009

    Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Ed. D.,
    Superintendent of Schools
    Diocese of Brooklyn
    310 Prospect Park West
    Brooklyn, NY 11215

    Dear Dr. Chadzutko,

    I am a parent of a Student in Saint Saviour Elementary School. I have just learned that Father Murphy, the pastor of our parish, is not renewing the contract of our principal, Mr. Flanagan. This news has shocked and demoralized our whole school, students and parents alike. Our pastor has declined to discuss the reason for the termination and will not meet with us as a group. The community of St. Saviour Elementary School parents has had their confidence in the church and school shattered. St. Saviour is a successful, well run and well attended school. Our Principal has served it well for 25 years and should continue to do so until he decides on retiring. Good principals are rare and precious.

    Dr. Chadzutko, please intercede for our school and have Mr. Flanagan reinstated as our principal! We appreciate you looking into this matter. Our school children deserve the best and to replace Mr. Flanagan is against what is beneficial for our children and school. Thank you for your kind consideration.


    Cindy Brolsma

    cc: Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
    Bishop Frank Caggiano

  26. Reverend Nicholas Anthony DiMarzio, Ph.D, D.D.
    75 Green Avenue
    Brooklyn, New York 11238

    Re: Saint Saviour’s Elementary School
    Dear Bishop DiMarzio:
    I am a parent of a student at St. Saviour’s Elementary School (“SSES”). Last week, I learned that Father Murphy, the Pastor of Saint Saviour’s, has decided not to renew the contract of Principal James Flanagan, who has dedicated the last twenty-five (25) years to SSES. To date, Father Murphy has failed to formally advise the parents of SSES of his decision, to provide us with any reason for his decision, and to discuss his apparent new vision for the future of our beloved school. Bishop DiMarzio, under your leadership, you have previously made clear that the Diocese is not interested in weakening healthy schools. Moreover, in these difficult times for our Catholic schools, you have indicated that the input and activity of the parents is essential to the decision making process. In fact, as noted in the May 16, 2009 editorial of The Tablet, “[n]ot only has our diocesan bishop clearly emblazoned his stamp on the preservation of Catholic schools; he has summoned our laity to come to their rescue, laying out a strategy to ensure it.” Fr. Murphy’s actions appear to be in direct conflict with these points.
    As I am sure you are aware, in a period where numerous other parochial schools within your Diocese have been closed, or are in the process of closing, SSES has continued to thrive and flourish. Our children are blessed to obtain not only an incredible scholastic education, but an understanding of the Catholic faith and how to live the life of a good Catholic in all that they do. You would be incredibly proud of the exemplary Catholic children who have graduated from SSES and go out into the world with such a strong religious base. As you have previously noted on numerous occasions, our children are the future of our faith. Having had the opportunity to observe the children of SSES, including my own child, I am pleased to say the future of our faith is bright.
    While there are many reasons for the success of SSES, including dedicated teachers and responsible parents, the one constant in SSES has been the leadership and guidance of our principal, Mr. Flanagan. Over the last twenty-five (25) years, Mr. Flanagan has devoted his life to the education and spiritual growth of all of the children at SSES. To see him interact with the students, all of who he knows by name, and to see the devotion his students have toward him, is a source of immense pride. He not only teaches the Catholic faith to his students but provides an example of what it means to be a good Catholic in his dedication and compassion to the children.
    Mr. Flanagan is an incredibly proud and dedicated man who has devoted his life to the children of SSES. As a parent, I have been extremely fortunate to have him serve as Principal and I believe Fr. Murphy’s decision not to renew his contract will have a significant negative effect on SSES, its students and the Parish. Accordingly, I respectfully request that you look into this matter and, upon confirming the significant and positive role Mr. Flanagan has had and continues to have at SSES, you make every effort to persuade Fr. Murphy to reverse his unfortunate decision not to offer Mr. Flanagan a new contract.
    Respectfully submitted,

  27. May 13, 2009

    Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Ed. D.,
    Superintendent of Schools
    Diocese of Brooklyn
    310 Prospect Park West
    Brooklyn, NY 11215

    Dear Dr. Chadzutko,

    I am a parent of a Student in Saint Saviour Elementary School. Last week our parents were informed by a parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus School that our beloved Principal Mr. James Flanagan was being released from his job at St. Saviour Elementary School. As a parent I am very annoyed that I was not notified of this change and that this change should be occurring at this time.

    Saint Saviour Elementary School has always received the highest ratings by the Diocese, Middle States and our students have always scored exceeding well on all our State Exams and our 8th Graders receive a phenomenal amount of scholarships each year. With all this being said, how; can our principal of 25 years be let go! Mr. Flanagan has been an excellent administrator; he knows each child by name and every parent. With the advent of Governing Boards coming in the near future, should not Mr. Flanagan who has served on a number of Principal Committees be the one to lead our school into this new reality?

    Dr. Chadzutko, please intercede for our school and have Mr. Flanagan reinstated as our principal! We appreciate you looking into this issue matter. Our school children deserve the best and to replace Mr. Flanagan in this way goes against what is beneficial for our children and school. Thank you for your kind consideration.


    cc: Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
    Bishop Frank Caggiano

  28. From: Thomas Chadzutko Ed.D. []
    Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 4:55 PM
    To: michele*
    Subject: Re: Mr. Flanagan – St. Saviour Elementary School

    Dear Michele,
    Thank you for your e-mail.

    I have been working with Mr. Flanagan and will continue to work with him during this process.There are processes in place for just such a situation and Mr. Flanagan has been made aware of them


    Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
    Superintendent of Schools
    R.C. Diocese of Brooklyn
    7200 Douglaston Parkway

    Douglaston, New York 11362

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