October 21, 2011

Progress on construction of new school in Greensburg celebrated

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator, reflects on the new school building being constructed for St. Mary School in Greensburg on Sept. 27. At his left is Father John Meyer, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg. Bishop Coyne, parish leaders, parishioners, school faculty and students, and leaders in the architectural firm and construction company who designed and are building the new facility were on hand for an event to celebrate the progress made thus far on the $8 million project. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator, reflects on the new school building being constructed for St. Mary School in Greensburg on Sept. 27. At his left is Father John Meyer, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg. Bishop Coyne, parish leaders, parishioners, school faculty and students, and leaders in the architectural firm and construction company who designed and are building the new facility were on hand for an event to celebrate the progress made thus far on the $8 million project. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

GREENSBURG—Construction continues on schedule on a new facility for St. Mary School in Greensburg on a 25-acre site

approximately one mile south of its current location.

Although the $8 million project has been under way for six months, it has been discussed in the parish for a generation.

Just ask Paul Ernstes.

“I was on the parish council when Father [John] Geis was here [as pastor],” said Ernstes, 86. “That would have been in the 1970s. It was talked about then.”

He recalled his memories of those early discussions during a Sept. 27 ceremony at the construction site to celebrate the “topping” of the new facility.

The last of the girders of the

50,000-square-foot school had recently been put in place, and a flag was placed at the top of it.

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator, as well as parish leaders, students and parishioners attended the event.

“I’m glad to see it,” Ernstes said. “I’d like to live long enough to see the church here, too. I think this is good.”

The school building is slated to be completed for use at the start of the

2012-13 academic year. Parish leaders hope to complete the move to the new site in the coming years by constructing a parish church and offices there.

In remarks during the ceremony, Bishop Coyne said the construction of a new Catholic school and other Church buildings “speak of God’s presence in our midst and in our community.

“They’re symbols of the Christian community,” he said. “When people drive by and see a beautiful church or a beautiful school, they say, ‘There’s a people who are rooted in that community, rooted in their faith and rooted in what they do.’

“And so, the fact that you’re all making such a commitment in your time and energy and treasure to support the building of this school, and support the building of a new church down the road says a lot about the faithful community of the people of this area. We rejoice in this day, and give thanks to God for the work that has begun.”

Among the reasons for moving the parish’s school, and eventually its church and offices, to a new location is that the parish is landlocked at its current location and cannot expand. Also, the school’s students and the parishioners can be better served in new buildings that will replace its current ones, some of which are more than 100 years old.

Msgr. Harold Knueven, administrator of St. Mary Parish until last July, oversaw the planning and start of the construction of the new school. He attended the Sept. 27 ceremony.

“I’m glad it’s progressing,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure to be here with everybody. There’s a lot of support in the parish for this project.”

One of those supporters is the school’s principal, Nancy Buening. She is backing the project not just because of the prospect of having a brand new building for her faculty and students. She grew up in the parish, and shares the hopes and dreams of many fellow parishioners.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Buening, who taught at St. Mary for 23 years before becoming principal four years ago. “It’s neat to see that there’s still that much support for the school and the parish as a whole. It’s going to be neat to have everything eventually all together out there in one building, not spread out in a couple different places.”

Buening brought a group of current St. Mary School students to the ceremony.

One of them was fifth grader Christopher Moorman, who said that he “feels privileged” to have a new school built for him and other students.

“I think it’s going to be good,” said Christopher. “We’ll have new classrooms and a [new] gym.”

Those classrooms and gym will be used not just by Christopher and other students, but also by ministries throughout the parish.

“I’ve thought about the fact there is so much going on in the parish right now,” said Father John Meyer, St. Mary Parish’s pastor since July. “There are so many active groups in ministries. We will be able to serve the Catholic community and the Greensburg community in a more full way [in the new school building].”

Don Horan was one of many St. Mary parishioners who attended the event. While several people were touring the site, he spoke about the large number of parishioners who contributed to the effort to make the project a reality.

“It’s a moving experience,” Horan said. “It’s something that many, many people have dreamed about for a number of years. And to see it come to fruition, and the bishop here, and all of these people here who have been talking about this and dreaming about this and working at this for a number of years, is just a real [blessing] for me.”

(For more information on St. Mary Parish in Greensburg, log on to www.stmarysgreensburg.com.)

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