History of Saint Lucy School for Children with Visual Impairments
Saint Lucy School was founded within Saint Francis deSales Parish in 1955. In the Philadelphia region at that time, there was a rubella epidemic. Many babies were being born prematurely. Hospitals would routinely use incubators to increase the likelyhood of survival for these babies. Unfortunately, it was not commonly known that the high levels of oxygen used in incubators could have a negative effect on the eyes. Over time more and more babies who had been incubated were leaving the hospital with visual impairments/blindness.
As these children reached school age, Many parents desired a day program in which their child could live at home with their families and travel back and forth to school. They wanted a program that would provide instruction in the faith as well as meeting 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. Cardinal O'Hara granted permission that a school for children with visual impairments be established within the archdiocese.
After much preparation, Saint Lucy 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 Saint Francis deSales accepted and welcomed the children with visual impairments into their classrooms. This enabled the Saint Lucy students 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 Saint 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. Since it's opening at St. Francis deSales, St. Lucy School has also been blessed to be a part of St. Alice School, Holy Innocents School and presently to be a part of the St. Jerome School community.