Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F.A. Krift

8/1/2008 (6 years ago)

Pittsburgh Tribune Review (www.pghtrib.com)

The Rev. John Haney, pastor of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin is a champion of Catholic education.

Highlights

By F.A. Krift

Pittsburgh Tribune Review (www.pghtrib.com)

8/1/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in U.S.


Pittsburgh, PA (Pittsburgh Tribune Review) - When the Rev. John Haney came to St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin in 1983, the church elementary school charged a $50 book fee for each parish child to attend.

Get rid of it, Haney said. Providing a free Catholic education to parishioners is vital.

Flash forward 25 years. The Whitehall school remains free, and it's the only Catholic school in the state without tuition.

Staying free matters, according to Haney, school officials and parish members, because of the pride, sense of community and passion it creates. They have done it for one another and God through tithing, said parishioner Francis Nowalk, 79.

"It costs a lot of money to run a school," said Nowalk of Whitehall, who sent six children to St. Gabriel and is on the parish financial committee. "The fact is we're doing it and not only are we doing it, but in academics we're really on top of things. You're not going to a second-class school because it is free."

The eight dioceses of Pennsylvania include 443 Catholic schools, including five seminaries, 27 colleges and universities, 62 parish high schools and 11 schools for the disabled, according to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.

Only the 390 students at St. Gabriel don't pay a single cent.

"It's incredible what they are able to do," said Robert Paserba, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Average tuition at Catholic elementary schools in Pittsburgh is about $3,000 for the first child. The mean elementary parish tuition was $2,607 a year nationwide in 2006-07, according to the National Catholic Education Association. Secondary education averaged $6,906.

About 2,300 families live in St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin parish. The school's budget is about $1.3 million a year, Haney said. The cost per student is about $3,300. All of that evens out to about $565 per parish family.

Some think the parish has an endowment, but it doesn't, Haney said. The collection plate on Sunday helps pay for the school. Haney doesn't expect 10 percent of a parishioner's salary as the Bible suggests.

"People are generous," said Bill Nee, whose sixth and youngest child is starting fifth grade this summer. "There is no required payments. There are no hidden payments. It just comes from the generosity of the people of the parish."

Haney didn't know how to cover education costs about 10 years ago. He lost sleep just before the school year started because he had $80,000 in teacher salary increases.

He was ready to use an outside fundraising plan to ensure the school survived tuition-free when Nowalk approached him about tithing.

It was in the Bible, Nowalk said, 1 Corinthians 16:2: "On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come."

Haney wasn't sure it would work, but it has so far. The parishioners have always responded when money was in need, Haney said.

He said he doesn't beg for money, and it isn't a pulpit topic. Instead, Haney gives a state of the parish address each fall so the church knows the financial situation. And if families can't give money, volunteering "time and talent," is vital for the school.

"People make their own decision when tithing," Haney said. "Tithing makes the person, not the pastor, share the responsibility."

The parish even made T-shirts that called the school "the miracle on Greenridge Drive," referring to the school's address.

Haney estimates about 75 percent of the children wouldn't attend the school if it charged tuition, because he considers the parish area's public school system, Baldwin-Whitehall School District, a good district.

St. Gabriel Principal Barbara Sawyer noted that five students in the 2008 eighth-grade class of 35 were moving on to a Catholic high school. The previous graduating class sent 18 of 35 students to a parochial school, she said. She wasn't sure that the souring economy was solely the factor, but it certainly mattered.

Having a school perks up the church grounds, Haney said. He celebrates Mass twice weekly with the students, which is always a lively affair. The physical education classes outside fill his days with noise and laughter.

And student success brings the parish together, he said, citing the girls basketball team's 2007 state diocesan championship and the eighth-grade math team's No. 1 national ranking in an online education program.

"They energize you, I'll tell you that," he said. "That's why I'm still going at 73."

This article was wonderfully written by F.A. Krift and is republished with the permission of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Good Samaritan who fed homeless for 10 years charged with unbelievable $2,000 fine Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Founder of the nonprofit mobile food truck Chow Train, Joan Cheever, was fined by the San Antonio, Texas police for about $2,000 due to the lack of permit for the trucks she is using to transport food. Cheever argues she has the right to do her charitable activity ... continue reading


Tragic final hours of Abraham Lincoln recounted on anniversary of his assassination Watch

Image of Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth's final words were reportedly

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Long troubled by depression, 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln awoke on the last day of his life, April 14, 1865 in an uncommonly good mood. Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd decided to attend the hit farce comedy "Our American Cousin," which was playing at ... continue reading


Courage in the Storm: Three Cheers for Wyoming Catholic College! Watch

Image of I do not personally know President Kevin Roberts of Wyoming Catholic. I have never even visited Wyoming Catholic College. However, the action of the President inspires me. The College is now on my radar screen, so to speak. I will be praying for them and paying close attention to their future. I ask my readers to do the same. - Deacon Keith Fournier

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Since the objective of a Catholic University is to assure in an institutional manner a Christian presence in the university world confronting the great problems of society and culture, every Catholic University, as Catholic, must have the following essential ... continue reading


Abercrombie and Fitch employee reveals racial discrimination and sexual harassment at work Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over the past ten years, Abercrombie and Fitch has received a number of discrimination lawsuits; they even paid $40 million in settlement back in 2006. Just recently, an unnamed employee went out in the open and gave full information about the constant racial ... continue reading


Know someone in the military? They could be in danger from Islamic militants Watch

Image of The Islamic State is threatening U.S. service members and their families, prompting senior military officials to issue guidelines about social media activity, to protect service members.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State's threat of violence towards U.S. service members is being taken very seriously by U.S. military officials, who have issued a warning to troops that instructs them to hide all information about them or their families on public accessible sites, ... continue reading


'One nation under God' defense team claims victory after atheists back down Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Marking their fifth victory in a row, the conservative wing in defense of retaining the words "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is claiming victory on the newest court trial. This is due to the decision from the ... continue reading


Emotions spike over 'disrespectful' political cartoon depicting 2-year-old murder victim Watch

Image of Kaden Lum was brutally murdered at just 2-years-old.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An editorial cartoon published is viewed as "disrespectful" by the family of 2-year-old Kaden Lum, killed in the still unresolved shooting last March 28. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Kaden's family was left outraged with Kitsap Sun newspaper's political ... continue reading


New Islamic State video vows another 9/11 and to 'burn America' Watch

Image of Entitled

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The evil media machine of Islamic State remains ever ready. The Middle Eastern terror group latest video declares there is "no safety for any American on the globe" and claims that the U.S. will burn in another 9/11-style attack. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Divine Mercy Sunday, Doubting Thomas and the Jubilee Year of Mercy Watch

Image of Pope Francis: Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God. We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Thank God for 'Doubting Thomas'. His doubts healed the wounds of our own disbelief. They also open up, for all who look with the eyes of faith, a deeper understanding of the redemptive effect of the wounds of Jesus - and the role our own wounds can have in our ... continue reading


Repentance Walks but Mercy Runs: Pope of Mercy Invokes a Year of Mercy Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On Saturday 11 April, on the eve of what is celebrated as Mercy Sunday in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis will officially convoke an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. He will release what is called a Bull of Indiction. Such a Papal Bull is a ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 6:1-7
1 About this time, when the number of disciples was ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
4 The word of Yahweh is straightforward, all he does ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
16 That evening the disciples went down to the shore ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2015 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter