Catholic school planned for Mary Help of Christians site


By Elaine Silvestrini | Tribune Staf

TAMPA — With plans moving forward to open a new Catholic high school in the place where he says he was abused decades ago by a priest, Barry Roche is ambivalent.

“I wish them the best,” the 71-year-old retired police officer says. “But in the back of my mind, it still says, ‘Be careful.’ ”

Roche is angry he received a fundraising solicitation for the new school, to be opened in the former Mary Help of Christians School in East Tampa as part of the national Cristo Rey network of college prep schools for “underrepresented urban youth.”

The fundraising letter, he said, “just hit me in the wrong place.” Church officials know about his abuse, he said, and should have removed his name from any fundraising lists.

Jim Madden, feasibility coordinator for the school, didn’t write or sign the letter to Roche. But he said planners are “trying to do something good.”

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