SPRINGFIELD—Pulling into the parking lot of St Anthony’s Church and its connected Ceders Banquet hall, even in the dark of night, a ghastly void hangs in the background. The 2011 tornado that ripped through affluent East Forest Park neighborhood did not lay waste to any of the immediate vicinity. Yet, the once treed backdrop, something many of the city’s leafier neighborhoods have, is gone, a fitting reminder as allies of the nearby Cathedral High rallied to save and return the school to its home at Surrey Road last Thursday.
However, as some have observed it is not the tornado that truly posed the biggest existential threat to the city’s only Catholic high school. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield’s new bishop, Mitchell Rozanski, has put the brakes on rebuilding the school, prompting fears the Diocese will reverse its earlier promises. A coalition of alumni, parents of students past and present and stakeholders in the East Forest Park area, led in part by several of the city and region’s leading political figures.