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By Veronica Nygaard, Crisis Magazine, Feb. 2, 2022
Veronica Nygaard is a staff writer for The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education.
The oldest baptismal record in America, dated 1741, is at St. John the Baptist Church in rural Ottsville, Pennsylvania, part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. But not so long ago, the Catholic school at one of the nation’s longest-surviving Catholic parishes was on the brink of closure.
Brian Middleton saw rapid decline when his youngest daughter, Maria, was a student. When she was in first grade, in 2008, Brian sat in the balcony of the old parish church for the opening Mass because so many students filled the pews.
The next year, he found a seat in the back row. The following year, he was halfway up the church. …