| Treasuring Catholic schools' legacy of excellence
Members of the Class of 2017 of Our Lady of the Rosary School let their hats fly after graduation. With the graduates, at left, are Kathy Gannon-Briggs, the interim principal, and Rev. Jose Leon, former pastor. In the center back, is the current pastor, Rev. Jesús Nieto-Ruiz.
Our Lady of the Rosary
As the first class of Our Lady of the Rosary School graduated on June 9, 1972, Mark Folger told Bishop Floyd Begin that he might want to be a priest. "Be sure and tell all the other boys," the bishop replied. With them is Father George Crespin, who served as pastor from 1971 to 1979. Friar Mark Folger, OFM Conv., took his final vows in 2007 and serves in Rome.
'Much will be accomplished'
Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Union City purchased the old Decoto School building and moved it to the church grounds and renovated it in 1963 for Our Lady of the Rosary School. Half of the building was demolished. The remaining six classrooms were painted, sheetrock was applied and new window glass installed.
By April 1962, the parish had grown to 5,497 members — including 2,931 children. The parish purchased the old telephone company building and converted it to a four-room schoolhouse for religious education. The Sisters of the Holy Family taught the classes. The parish operated the largest CCD program in the diocese — 1,650 elementary school children received instruction in the faith.
On Saturday, March 18, 1967, the convent for the Franciscan Sisters of Malta was blessed and Our Lady of the Rosary Parochial school was dedicated. Bishop Floyd Begin said it was a day he had long looked forward to, and that because of the new facilities "much will be accomplished."
Financing was aided by moneymaking projects and an extra dollar a week from parishioners.
The school opened in September 1967, serving 160 children in grades one through four. Teachers were Mother Gervasia, principal and fourth grade; Sister Lidwina, first grade; Sister Licinia second grade; and Sister Osvaldina (third grade). Rev. Bruce Pardella, OFM, was pastor.
Opened: September 1967
Order first affiliated: Franciscan Sisters of Malta, Sisters withdrew 1973; Holy Names Sister became principal withdrew after one year
Closed: June 2017
Our Lady of the Rosary School graduated its first class on June 9, 1972.
Mother Gervasia was transferred back to Malta in September of that year; the remaining sisters would follow the next year.
Early in 1975, the school faced financial hardship and its threatened closure would have put 270 students into the public schools. With the promise of help from Bishop Begin and a pledge of $500 a year from 104 families, a $50,000 improvement project began and a 2,000-square-foot portable building added.
The school got down to 100 students in 1992; by combining grades and with the Pastor Father Jose Leon, acting as principal, it was able to keep the doors open. In the years that followed, the school grew and Father Leon was able to hire a principal.
Source: "A Centennial History — 1907-2007: 100 Years of Faith," by the OLR Centennial Committee
— Michele Jurich
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