Say "Yes" to Save our School

Friends, strangers, alumni and businesses, I ask you to say, “yes” to saving our school. Saving our students. Saving our staff.

            St. Maria Goretti School and Parish has been a mainstay in the working-class, urban Bloomfield community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for more than a century. Over the years, tens of thousands of children from all over the city – children of all faiths and of all economic classes – have received an exemplary education in its hallowed halls and classrooms. Parishioners and non-parishioners alike have been drawn to St. Maria Goretti’s street festivals, celebrations of the sacraments, and Bingo nights. The institution has fostered a diverse community unified in the belief that every child deserves a chance to learn and succeed. 

            St. Maria Goretti School and Parish serve students from pre-K to eighth grade and the community at large. When families can’t afford their child’s tuition, St. Maria Goretti provides it for free through its Angel Fund. When families can’t afford clothing for their children, St. Maria Goretti School provides it for them. When families can’t afford food for their children, St. Maria Goretti School provides it for them and guides them to services for long-term assistance.

            My family knows the generosity of the school, firsthand. No, we are not parishioners. No, we don’t live close to the school or church. No, we never attended any of its community events. But then, one fortuitous day, my mom found herself there for morning mass before her workday. She felt compelled to ask one of the nuns if they had a job in the school for my sister, Marie. Marie has special needs. My mom had barely gotten out the request before Sr. Agnes immediately responded, "Of course! Let me take you to the principal."  She clasped my mom’s hand as she led the way saying, “There is always work to be done here.” Sister Agnes said, “yes” to my mom. She said “yes”, when so many others had said, “no”. It was a “yes” that sparked a series of “yeses”. The principal said, “yes.” The teachers said, “yes”. The cook in the school cafeteria said, “yes.” That was five years ago. Since then, Marie has become a full-fledged member of the school community and is flourishing. She assists in the cafeteria and the classrooms and has developed relationships with staff members, the nuns, and the students.

            Sr. Agnes, now deceased, was one of four nuns who live in the convent on the grounds of the school. They all belong to the Order of Sisters of the Holy Spirit. One of them runs the school, that’s Principal Sister Mary John. In retrospect, it’s not surprising Sr. Agnes and the others said “yes”. They were emulating the school’s namesake, Saint Maria Goretti who is patron saint of many things including forgiveness, youth, teenage girls, and rape victims.

            Maria was born into a poor family of sharecroppers in Italy in 1890. When she was just 11 years old, a farmhand named Alessandro Serenelli tried to rape her. She fought him off screaming that rape was a sin and that God does not want it. Allesandro choked Maria but when she told him she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her 11 times. She tried to run away but he stopped her and stabbed her three more times. Maria was rushed to the hospital where she underwent surgery without anesthesia. The hospital’s pharmacist told Maria she would soon die. The day after the attack, Maria forgave Alessandro and said she wanted to have him in Heaven with her. Maria said, “yes” to forgiving her murderer. Later, while clutching a crucifix and a photo of the Blessed Mother, she died of her injuries. Alessandro was sentenced to prison where inspired by her forgiveness, he became a man of faith. After his release, Pope Pius XII canonized Maria Goretti as a saint, and Alessandro attended the ceremony. He eventually became a lay brother of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and worked at the monastery until his death. Oh, the power of YES!

            Just as St. Maria Goretti’s faithful life and heroic death helped to transform the life of Alessandro, St. Maria Goretti’s school forms young students into the leaders of tomorrow by providing them with an excellent education and a moral foundation. But the school’s ability to do this could come to an end. Strained budgets in the Bloomfield community and declining church attendance in the Pittsburgh Diocese have left the school in desperate financial need.

            The school has sustained itself throughout the years with fundraisers. It has collected bags of worn shoes to be sold for shredding to help insulate huts in Africa. The school has held walk-a-thons, pancake breakfasts, Lenten Fish dinners, Lottery calendars, Sarris candy sales and more. But these many efforts have not been enough to keep the school financially stable.

            The school now undertakes the biggest fundraising effort in its 108-year history - coming to you for direct donations. The financial challenge is to raise $300,000. Now more than any time, the school needs you to help keep it operating. If the cherished school doesn’t receive the money, it will not be able to continue providing the gift of education to those who can't afford tuition. The school would never want to turn away children. We must keep the school's doors open to all, always!  We must keep the traditions of St. Maria Goretti's School alive! Without it, the Bloomfield community would never be the same.

            The school and community need its school to advance its goals of the future. Principal Sr. Mary John has goals for the school itself too. She wants to build enrollment. She wants to enhance the school’s information technology and STEM programs and paint its gym for student athletes.

            Sr. Agnes said, “yes” to my mom, as did the others.  Maria Goretti said, “yes” to forgiving her murderer. Friends, strangers, alumni and businesses, I implore you, say, “yes” to the students. Say, “yes” to my sister. And say, “yes” to saving our school.

Donations can be made via GoFundMe or make checks available to St. Maria Goretti School and mail to: St. Maria Goretti School, 321 Edmond Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15224. Thank you for being a blessing. Love, Mollie

#SayYes #ThePowerofYes! #SaveOurSchool #StMariaGorettiBloomfield #MySistersSchool
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    • 25 $ 
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    • 25 $ 
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  • Theron Jackson 
    • 10 $ 
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    • 50 $ 
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Organizer and beneficiary

Mollie Halpern 
Pittsburgh, PA
Sister Mary John Cook 
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