A Tradition of Diversity

Holy Ghost Prep has a long history of promoting diversity and taking action in the community.

Back in March 1889, then-Archbishop Patrick Ryan wrote to Mother Katharine Drexel to inform her that he had secured a priest to minister to the Black Catholics in Philadelphia. There had been a growing need for a dedicated ministry for some time. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Black Catholics did not have a church of their own but rather attended Mass at various churches in the city. 

When Katharine Drexel was in Pittsburgh studying under the Sisters of Mercy to form her own order, she met the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. This order of priests, also known as the Spiritans, had numerous missions in Africa and through the work of Drexel and Ryan, agreed to come to Philadelphia. Father Peter McDermott, C.S. Sp. arrived in Philadelphia in 1889 and set up a small rectory, chapel, and school at 832 Pine Street, in a house purchased by Katharine Drexel. Right away the school had over 80 children, taught by the Spiritans and the Sisters of Notre Dame and the chapel was standing room only.

That mission of education while promoting diversity and taking action in the community continues today as Holy Ghost Prep offers Spiritan mission trips to the Dominican Republic and Tanzania, as well as to West Virginia, Harlem, and local spaces like the St. Francis Inn in Kensington.  

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at HGP are co-coordinated by Maria Lehr-Fortino, Thomas Saxton ’99, and John Scanlon ’01. The school’s larger diversity team, made up of Holy Ghost Prep administrators and faculty members, includes president Gregory J. Geruson '79, principal Kevin Burke, Spiritan chaplain Rev. Dan Sormani, C.S.Sp., director of campus ministry Mark Whartenby, director of counseling Aaron Pollock, John Fitzpatrick ’89, and Lily Wurtz. 

This Diversity Team's goal is to ensure that Holy Ghost Prep provides a space in which all students can feel safe, welcomed, and able to proudly express who they are.

To learn more about diversity at Holy Ghost Prep, please email the school’s diversity director John Scanlon jscanlon@holyghostprep.org and follow us on Instagram (@hgpdiversity).