History of St. Lucy Day School

St. Lucy Day School was founded within St. Francis deSales Parish in 1955.  At
that time, there was a high population of blind children due to the overuse of oxygen in hospitals to save the lives of premature babies, and because of the rubella epidemic.  As these children reached school age, their parents sought a program which would provide instruction in the faith as well as the special education their children needed.  Finding none available, they approached Cardinal O’Hara, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, and requested that a school be established for the education of children with visual impairments.

After much preparation, St. Lucy Day School became a reality through the cooperation of Bishop McShea, pastor of St. Francis deSales, the generosity of his parishioners, and the educational guidance of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In addition, the Diocesan Director of Special Education, later Bishop Graham of Philadelphia, assumed responsibility for the direction of the school, and the Office of the Catholic Charities Appeal funded the project.

The principal and teachers at St. Francis deSales accepted and welcomed the children with visual impairments into their classrooms. This enabled the St. Lucy children to participate in certain instructional periods with their sighted peers. This early and successful attempt to mainstream students, that is, to have the children spend part of the day in general education classrooms, not only provided socialization for the St. Lucy children, but also has become a model for programs attempting to serve the population with visual impairments. And so, with these factors combined with God’s constant blessings, the school opened, expanded and is still flourishing. Holy Innocent A.C.E.S is the third location for SLDS.

History of Archbishop Ryan School for the Deaf

Archbishop Patrick J. Ryan, an orator and the sixth bishop of Philadelphia, held great concern for the deaf children in his diocese. His dream of establishing a school for the deaf children was never fulfilled before his death. Archbishop Edmond Prendergast made his dream a reality.

On May 12, 1912 The Archbishop Ryan Memorial Institute for the Deaf and Dumb was founded. This school would exist as a living memorial to the former shepherd of the Philadelphia church and serve the needs of the Catholic Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The school’s early beginnings were located on Vine Street. Eventually, the city of Philadelphia purchased the property and the school was moved to 35th and Spring Garden Streets. Throughout the years, the name of the school was changed several times in an attempt to appropriately reflect the mission of the school.

In 1996, due to changing educational philosophies, ARAD moved to Delaware County to offer the students mainstream opportunities at St. Gabriel School in Norwood and St. George School in Glenolden.

As a result of advancements in medicine and technology the deaf and hard of hearing population has been reduced. To keep Archbishop Ryan’s dreams alive, in 2009, ARAD moved to St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments, located on the campus of Holy Innocents Parish.