Madden: Impact of new Catholic high school to reach beyond Central Baldwin

By John Underwood independent@gulfcoastnewspapers.com
Posted 7/27/13

ROBERTSDALE, Ala. -- The announcement of plans to build a Catholic high school in Baldwin County will have an immediate impact locally, according to local church officials.

“We will certainly do everything we can to support the new high …

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Madden: Impact of new Catholic high school to reach beyond Central Baldwin

Posted

ROBERTSDALE, Ala. -- The announcement of plans to build a Catholic high school in Baldwin County will have an immediate impact locally, according to local church officials.

“We will certainly do everything we can to support the new high school,” said Father Patrick Madden of St. Patrick’s Church in Robertsdale, “and it will certainly make a difference for us and all the schools in the area.”

St. Patrick School, which boasts about 220 students in grades K3 through 8, has served the Robertsdale area for nearly 35 years, Madden said. It is one of three Catholic schools in Baldwin County, along with Christ the King in Daphne and St. Benedict’s in Elberta.

In a press release issued Monday by the Archdiocese of Mobile, the need for a Catholic high school in Baldwin County has been studied, and a financial feasibility study has been conducted over the last four years.

“It has been talked about for a number of years,” Madden said, “and basically what the study found is that people are ready for talk to end and for action to begin.”

In a letter sent by Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi to members of the Baldwin-Escambia Deanery, it was announced that 40 acres of land has been purchased on Dick Higbee Road near the intersection of Highway 181 and Highway 104 near Fairhope.

Plans were also announced for a $9.5 million capital campaign for the construction of a Baldwin Catholic high school.

“The organization stage of the campaign has begun,” according to the release, “during which literature, leadership and structure are developed.”

While he did not have exact figures, Madden estimated that St. Patrick’s currently sends about five to six students to McGill-Toolen each year.

“With a new high school in Baldwin County that number will likely double or even triple,” he said.

It was also announced on Monday that McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile is in the planning stage for a capital campaign for the construction of a new student center, including a dining hall for 400, a student plaza and a new chapel will be a major component.

Architectural plan for the new student center are 95 percent complete, and the estimated cost of construction, including all fees, is $6.5 million.

Other projects include additional parking, two new locker rooms for the gymnasium and new, updated technology infrastructure for the campus.

A $3 million campaign is also underway to renovate property at 188 S. Florida St., for the consolidation of Catholic Social Services’ ministries in Mobile.

Marilyn D. King, executive director of Catholic Social Services in Mobile, said plans are to consolidate four offices in Mobile into one location and will not affect offices in Baldwin County, which includes the central office in Robertsdale and Children’s Trust Fund offices in Bay Minette.

Madden said he believes the construction of a new high school in Baldwin County will have effects far beyond the Catholic community.

“Baldwin County has a lot of potential for growth and I really think this will help attract business to the county,” Madden said. “One of the major selling points in business location is the quality of schools in the area and I think having a Catholic high school in Baldwin County can do nothing but improve the county’s marketing potential to business and industry.”