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



Comments


More U.S.

The disgusting new fact of American life: More than 46 million Americans on food stamps for 37 straight month Watch

Image of Obama has been in office for about 70 months, and 37 of those months have seen the most amount of Americans on food stamps, ever!

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is self-evident that President Obama continues to undermine the abilities of the lower class, enforcing government-reliance on those who can least afford it. The number of Americans on food stamps under Obama has continued along its record breaking path, as, ... continue reading


Faith in the United States' race relations hits a strikingly low point after no indictment verdicts Watch

Image of 57 percent of American's say race relations in the United States are bad, according to the latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Those are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, a man who fought long and hard for a better today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A land where discrimination no longer prevails is a reality that seems no ... continue reading


The Pope, the Pets, the Paparazzi and the Propaganda Media

Image of Pope Francis pets a dog

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The passing on of this complete fabrication, as well as the embellishment which accompanied it, were not simply a matter of the secular press failing to comprehend this Pope. In fact, religious news sources, both Catholic and Protestant, jumped in. This all ... continue reading


A journey to the land of the free: Part One -- Beaten and scared young children flee violence and turn to the United States for hope Watch

Image of Many young immigrants have no more fight in them when they decide to cross the border, they're only trying to survive.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Blistered feet and filthy, blood-stained skin is the forlorn image of immigrants preparing to cross the border. With hopeful hearts and anxious minds, immigrants, of all ages, assemble to make the leap into their promise land. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Most ... continue reading


Why is he so upset? Because of the secret Republican time bomb in the government funding bill Watch

Image of The federal government has funding through the 2015 fiscal year, but Republicans will have many opportunities to fight the president's programs in that time.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Senate has approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed to fund nearly the whole of the federal government through the 2015 fiscal year, ending weeks of drama in Congress and relieving doubts that the government might be shut down again while Democrats and ... continue reading


You know about the 'Bishop of Bling' but do American clergy have the same problem too? Watch

Image of The Bishop of Bling was sacked after he spent $43 million renovating his home.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has called for "a Church which is poor and for the poor." However, not every member of the clergy may have read the memo. A number of high-ranking Church officials in the United States live in lavish homes, sometimes bordering on the scandalous. LOS ... continue reading


Water leak leads to discovery of 1795 time capsule - left by Paul Revere! Watch

Image of A worker holds the time capsule left by the revolutionaries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Paul Revere, the fearless revolutionary who mounted his horse to declare that "The British are coming! The British are coming!" has left an enduring national legacy - in both deed and actions. Excitement is mounting with the discovery of a time capsule left by Revere ... continue reading


The Gender Identity Executive Order of President Obama is a Trojan Horse

Image of Most of us are familiar with the story of the Trojan Horse used by Greek soldiers to take the City of Troy. After a multi-year, unsuccessful effort to take the City, the Greeks pretended to retreat. However, Greek soldiers had left behind a large wooden horse. The Trojans found what they thought were spoils of battle, a large wooden horse. They decided to pull it into the City as a trophy of their victory. Hidden inside were an elite group of soldiers. As soon as the crowds gathered to celebrate the victory, they came out of the horse and destroyed the City from the inside.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

To equate how one engages in sexual activities with a member of the same sex - or whether one has sexual attraction to a member of the same sex - with a properly protected status such as race, creed, gender or national origin, in the enforcement of federal ... continue reading


America's best hope for 2016 is an old face: Republican's need Romney to run Watch

Image of While Mitt Romney has not said he will run for president in 2016, those close to him suggest that he will, and he is confident that he can win.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Republican party is doing a great deal of soul searching ahead of the 2016 presidential election season. It's will be tough finding a candidate that appeals to the small but vocal Tea Party, the aging and reactionary ultraconservatives and the large and ... continue reading


Government shutdown averted! House passes $1.1 trillion bill just in time Watch

Image of The House of Representatives barely managed to avoid another government shutdown by passing a $1.1 trillion spending bill just hours before the deadline.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On the verge of another government shutdown, the House managed to come in with a Hail Mary at the last minute, passing a $1.1 trillion bill on Thursday night, just hours before the deadline at midnight. More surprisingly, the rush to fund the government and ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 18th, 2014 Image

St. Rufus
December 18: Rufus and Zosimus were citizens of Antioch (or perhaps Philippi) ... 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