St. Philip Neri School Centennial

St. Philip Neri School in Bedford Park is celebrating 100 years with something hardly unique, given its history: even more service to its community.

Especially notable in celebration of the centennial was a visit by Timothy Cardinal Dolan to celebrate the renaming of part of the street outside of the grade school as “St. Philip Neri Way.”

The Cardinal said mass at the church before the sign unveiling, at Bedford Park Blvd and Villa Avenue, and later attended a reception on Sunday, September 8.

An Archdiocese of New York spokeswoman said the Cardinal’s visit affirms St. Philip Neri School’s importance as a long standing “beacon of unity, religious dedication, and academic excellence in Bedford Park.”

Timothy McNiff, Archdiocesan superintendent of schools, said the school has had a profound and positive impact on the lives of thousands of Bronx families over the course of 100 years.

“Although technology and teaching methods have changed over time,” he said, “academic excellence, a safe and structured environment, and faith-based values still remain at the center of the St. Philip Neri School experience today.”

In celebration of the centennial, its principal, Janet Heed, said the school is planning a year of service where each of its ten classes do ten special acts of kindness throughout the 2013-14 school year. It is called “100 Acts of Service to Celebrate 100 Years.”

“Our school motto is ‘Serviam,’ meaning I will serve,” Heed explained, adding that the “100 Acts” build charitable work that students normally do throughout their education at St. Philip Neri. “Hopefully it will get kids involved in the community.”

The 100 Acts of Service could include getting students involved in helping elderly parishioners, cleaning up the school grounds, and being reading partners for younger children in the school, she said.

St. Philip Neri School was founded in Sept. 8, 1913 by the Ursuline Sisters as a means of academically and spiritually helping Italian immigrants who moved to Bedford Park to build a reservoir, according to the Archdiocese.

A recent school census from the 2012-13 school year showed 216 students enrolled, though Heed said that this year the school enrolled about 100 new students, and many are not from Catholic schools that have recently been closed in a belt-tightening plan to put diocesan schools back in the black.

The school is also growing with children who had been attending some nearby public schools, she said.

“Catholic education has a hard time recently, however we are much alive and growing,” said Heed.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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