In two words he summed up what thousands were undoubtedly feeling at Masses throughout the region over the weekend: "I'm sad."
Faced with plummeting enrollment and shaky finances, the archdiocese announced Friday that the closings, aimed at stabilizing Catholic education in the region, could save up to $10 million a year.
Across the city, 19 elementary schools and two high schools will close. Bucks County will lose five elementary schools and one high school. In Delaware County, seven elementary schools and one high school will close. Twelve elementary schools will be shuttered in Montgomery County.
Meanwhile, the number of students attending schools in the archdiocese, about 68,000, is the same as it was a century ago. Catholic education in the region reached its peak in 1961, when 250,000 students were enrolled.
In hard-hit South Philadelphia, enrollment in parochial elementary schools dropped 27 percent from 2006 to 2010, to 2,572 students. Illustrating the demographic shifts that underlie that decline, over the same period, the number of registered Catholics in that part of the city fell 12 percent, to about 50,400.
Yet Jorge's mother, Sandra Fernandez, has more practical worries, explaining that "it's easy for me to get my son to the school" - it's three blocks from their rowhouse.
She's unsure how her son will get to his new school next year. Annunciation, at 11th and Wharton Streets, will merge with St. Nicholas of Tolentine, at Ninth and Pierce.
In broken English, Marcelina Torres, another parishioner with a son in seventh grade, said she also did not feel good.
Torres called Annunciation "wonderful" and said she did not know what school her son would attend next year.
Elsewhere, at Sacred Heart of Jesus in Pennsport, parishioner Angela Trusko complained that all South Philadelphia's Catholic elementary schools east of Broad Street were being consolidated or closed.
"I think it's ridiculous," said Trusko, who was a crossing guard for 30 years.
"Where's the child safety?" she asked, noting that the restructuring would result in young students' having to travel farther to get to school.
Bridgett Dougherty, who has two sixth graders at Sacred Heart, said: "We're pretty upset about it" - especially given the effort she and other parents had made to keep their school open.
Parishioners formed a committee two years ago that raised money to support the school and that persuaded alumni to donate essentials such as desks.
"We've really been working," she said.
Sacred Heart is one of five elementary schools in South Philadelphia that will be closed and consolidated at the former Stella Maris School at Bigler and South Darien Streets near the Schuylkill Expressway.
At St. Thomas Aquinas in Point Breeze, Msgr. Hugh J. Shields asked parishioners to "especially keep in prayer our teachers."
St. Thomas' school will merge with St. Gabriel's parochial school in Grays Ferry.
Though the new school will be in the St. Thomas building, it will have a new name and - crucially for Shields - some teachers will be laid off.
After Mass, Shields acknowledged that "decisions have to be made" to stabilize the Catholic school system's finances, but, as a pastor, he said he was concerned over the loss of some teachers who have made "great sacrifices" to the school.
Regionally, the closings will displace 1,700 teachers and other employees.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has said the archdiocese would help laid-off teachers. Archdiocesan spokeswoman Donna Farrell acknowledged the anguish felt throughout the archdiocese this weekend, though she said restructuring the school system was crucial so it could be set on a more "sustainable" footing.
"There is a bright future," she said.
Trepidation was not limited to parents and students of the affected schools.
Looking across the block at the Annunciation school, Ilene Wilder wondered, "What are they going to do with it?"
Wilder serves on the boards of the Passyunk Square Civic Association and the advisory board of Passyunk Square Park, across the street from the school.
Because of the neighborhood's robust real estate market, she said a developer might quickly snap up the school building. She said any proposals to put it to new use could reignite debates about the value of new development in a community often split between longtime residents and more recent arrivals, who tend to be younger professionals.
"How's it going to impact the neighborhood?" she asked.
Contact staff writer Anthony Campisi at 215-854-5015, email@example.com, or @campisia on Twitter.