St. Rosalia parishioners mourn loss of their school
Parishioners at St. Rosalia in Greenfield on Sunday mourned the loss of their school, prayed for the future of their church and questioned a decision-making process that some said was not transparent enough.
“We feel left out of this process,” said Mary Ann Deasy-Hatala, who attended St. Rosalia Academy and has four children in the school.
The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh announced the school’s closing Saturday, along with mergers between Monroeville’s North American Martyrs School and St. Bernadette School and Assumption School in Bellevue and Northside Catholic School in Brighton Heights.
Bishop David Zubik said in a press release Saturday that declining enrollment and heavy financial burdens factored into the decision to close St. Rosalia school — a decision made in conjunction with church leadership.
The Rev. Joseph Reschick addressed the school closure at the end of the 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday.
“In my 28 years as pastor, this was the hardest decision I have had to make,” he said. “Did I want to make this decision? No, definitely not. Did I have to make this decision? Yes.”
There are 22 students in catechism classes and 99 enrolled in the pre-K-through-8th grade school.
“There is heavy debt, and there were parents not meeting their responsibilities, from not paying tuition to not promoting school fundraisers to only attending Mass on Christmas and Easter,” Reschick said. “I feel so bad for the children and for the parents who were involved and who did meet and exceed their responsibilities.”
Deasy-Hatala said there was little communication during the process and parishioners were led to believe the school started the year with a clean financial slate. She faulted the diocese and parish leadership for the lack of communication. She said she felt as though parents were being blamed for the closure.
“There was never an effort to improve enrollment,” she said. “There was always talk of declining enrollment, but there was never a concerted effort to do anything.”
For most, the result was simple: sad.
“It’s an incredibly sad day,” said Bob Jablonowski, 70, who graduated from the parish academy. “I just pray to God they don’t close the church.”
He thanked Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy — an alumnus of the school — for his years of donations, which helped keep the doors open.
“Financially, they had to do it,” Jablonowski said. ““It’s a very, very difficult situation.”
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, email@example.com or via Twitter .