History of Greensburg Central Catholic
Greensburg Central Catholic High School opened its doors to welcome the first freshman class, September 8, 1959. Students came to Greensburg Central Catholic from as far east in the diocese as Ligonier, and as far west as Trafford. The origin of the school is rooted in the vision of the first Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg, Bishop Hugh L. Lamb.
In May 1951, Pope Pius XII established the new Diocese of Greensburg, carving it from the eastern reaches of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. On January 16, 1952, Hugh L. Lamb was installed as the first bishop of the new diocese, leaving his auxiliary bishop position with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Having spent several years as the superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bishop Lamb had a very definite vision for Catholic education, and felt that a distinct need existed for a secondary educational facility located centrally within the diocese.
A site for the new school was chosen in an area of Hempfield Township known as Carbon, after the former Carbon Coal Mining Company, which had operated in the area from 1890 to about 1916. Bishop Lamb broke ground for the building in 1958, and it was formally dedicated, November 29, 1959.
The weather on the day of the dedication was less than ideal. Cold, snowy conditions created treacherously icy roads. The former governor of Pennsylvania, David L. Lawrence, who was invited to the ceremony, was delayed 30 minutes, had to abandon his car on the side of the road, and “hitch” a ride with the road rescue division of the Pennsylvania State Troopers. The ceremony was challenged further, when another motorist lost control of his vehicle and hit a utility pole, knocking out power to the school. Governor Lawrence had to deliver his address in near-darkness. Power was eventually restored, approximately two hours later. Despite the adverse circumstances, all proceedings went as planned, to an audience of 2,000 people.
During the dedication ceremony, both Bishop Lamb and Governor Lawrence gave addresses that explained and illustrated the school’s mission, which is still most relevant to Catholic education today. Bishop Lamb blessed each room in the school and dedicatied the crucifix in its foyer. He stated, “It is this formation of character, according to the doctrine and precepts of Christ, that Catholics regard as the supreme goal of education.”
Governor Lawrence expressed his gratitude for the “invaluable service” of Catholic education, noting that “the burden of public education is considerably lightened by the responsibilities that the parochial schools have assumed.”
Sadly, nine days later, Bishop Lamb died, suddenly, at the age of 69; however, his legacy lives on, as Greensburg Central Catholic has proven to be a lasting educational institution for thousands of young Catholic men and women.
With a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in canon law, and as a licentiate in sacred theology, Father Harry G. Hynes served as the first principal of Greensburg Central Catholic. Father Hynes was aided in his administrative duties by Father William Sheridan, who served as assistant principal.
The initial teaching staff divided its curricular instructional duties by distributing them among the six religious orders that served the school. The Sisters of St. Benedict were in charge of teaching languages, while science and music instruction were undertaken by the Sisters of Charity. The Felician Sisters taught mathematics, the Sisters of Mercy taught English, the Sisters of St. Joseph taught social studies, and the Vincentian Sisters of Charity taught business. Physical education courses were taught by lay teachers.
The initial content area department chairs were: Sister Joan of Arc, R.S.M., English Department; Sister Mary Dennis, S.S.J., Social Studies Department; Sister Mary Jean, S.C., Science Department; Sister Mary Irene, S.C., Music Department; Sister Mary Thomas C.S.S.F., Mathematics Department, and Sister M. Michele, O.S.B., Language Department. Joseph Mucci and Ann Bobnar taught boys’ and girls’ physical education, respectively.
Father Hynes received an assignment in the Diocese of Allentown in 1960 to become the superintendent of Catholic schools there. He was succeeded as principal at Greensburg Central Catholic by his former assistant, Father Sheridan, who held that title from 1960-63 and would have the honor of leading the commencement of the first graduating class.
Father Sheridan was, in turn, succeeded by Msgr. Robert Shuda, who left in 1964 to pursue his doctoral studies, and to later return as superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese. Msgr. Shuda’s successor was Father Lawrence Hoppe who was principal from 1964-69.
The period from 1969 to 1979 was the tenure of Greensburg Central’s first lay principal, Frank A. Reno, who had also previously served the school as a teacher and was the principal of Geibel Catholic High School. Reno was succeeded as principal by Sister of Charity Patrice Hughes who served from 1979 to 1982. Sister Patrice was succeeded by Sister of Charity Donna Marie Leiden who had previously taught mathematics at Central.
Following Sister Donna Marie was one of her former faculty colleagues, James Farrell, who, over many years at Greensburg Central, was also well-known as a teacher, guidance counselor, and basketball coach before becoming principal. Farrell served as principal from 1988-92, and over the next two years, was followed by Sister of Charity Kay Palas and by Brother Lawrence Monroe, who was principal until 1994.
From 1994 until 2002, Sister of Charity Brigid Marie Grandey served as the school’s principal. In the years following, she moved to the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Office of Education and to an elected office of her religious community. Sister Brigid Marie was succeeded by Terence P. Meehan, the former principal of St. Gertrude School in Vandergrift. Meehan was principal of Greensburg Central from 2002-06, when he moved to the administrative office of the New Castle Area School District.
From 2006-07, Father Daniel Blout served as the principal of Greensburg Central, subsequently moving on to the ministry of the pastorate and parish administration.
“Father Dan” was succeeded by Donald Favero, who came to the school after a fulfilling career in public education and a term as the Dean of Students at Mount Alvernia Academy in Chestnut Hill, Ma. Favero also coached the girls’ varsity basketball team. Serving as his vice principal, Denise Myers succeeded Donald Favero as principal in 2011. Donald A. Teti succeeded Myers in 2014, and Teti was succeeded by current principal, Benjamin Althof in 2016.
As history has borne witness, the torch of Bishop Lamb’s educational vision has been carried farther by the principals, teachers, and students of the Greensburg Central Catholic learning community. Bishop Lamb’s successor, Bishop William G. Connare, served as the second bishop of the diocese from 1960-87, and effectively built upon Bishop Lamb’s vision for Catholic education.
In 1962, Bishop Connare proposed the construction of a faculty house facility for all six groups of religious teachers at the school. This new building was to provide a wing for each religious community, with a centrally-located chapel, as well as a dining room and a community room. As Bishop Connare’s vision bore fruit, construction proceeded, and the first Mass was offered in the new facility’s chapel, August 31, 1969. This building was used in its original form for 40 years, and shortly thereafter was partially raized, and renovated, into a new performing arts center. A new student chapel was created on the third floor of the main school building, near its new computer laboratory.
The physical plant of Greensburg Central Catholic High School continued to develop over the years with the addition of a new wing in 1967, which included four more regular classrooms, a band room, the athletic director’s office, and an infirmary. Within the last decade, this wing has again been renovated into new classrooms, an athletic conditioning center, and a new library which replaced the former library originally located on the building’s third floor.
In 1987, Bishop Anthony G. Bosco, formerly an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, became the third bishop of Greensburg upon the retirement of Bishop Connare. During Bishop Bosco’s tenure, Greensburg Central Catholic High School continued to grow. In 1989, Greensburg Central Catholic, which had previously used Offutt Field in Greensburg for its football games, constructed its own football field and surrounding track. In 1998, stadium lighting was installed to illuminate night football games and soccer matches., facilitated and aided by the efforts of the Greensburg Central Catholic High School Fathers’ Club and Mothers’ Club, both of which later combined to form the GCCHS Parents’ Club.
Upon his retirement in 2004, Bishop Bosco was succeeded by Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt, the fourth Bishop of Greensburg, who came to Greensburg from the Diocese of Erie. In the tradition of his predecessors, Bishop Brandt continued to make Catholic education a priority, and Greensburg Central Catholic High School has continued to grow and develop.
The school plant continues to enjoy many new updates to meet the educational and spiritual needs of its students. From 2007-09, a new project was undertaken, in which campus parking was expanded to accommodate the construction of a new auxiliary gymnasium facility which was added to the rear of the school building.
In 2011, the Performing Arts Center underwent a renovation, to include visual arts classrooms, a photography classroom, and a storage facility. Also in 2011, the “new wing” area was renovated to accommodate the junior-high students, who began attending Greensburg Central Catholic during the 2011-12 school year.
In 2014, Greensburg Central Catholic began a 1:1 Technology Initiative in conjunction with the Diocese of Greensburg Office of Information Technologies, and the Office of Catholic Schools. Students in grades 9 through 12 each received tablet computers to be used for educational purposes inside and outside the classroom. The project expanded in 2016, with the distribution of laptop computers to the high school students.
Bishop Edward C. Malesic became the fifth bishop of the diocese, July 13, 2015.
Greensburg Central Catholic High School, a true “Alma Mater, a fostering mother,” is a growing community of alumni around the world. These sons and daughters, who, by their lives and what they have learned at Greensburg Central Catholic, are living testimony to the Gospel and to the love which is Jesus Christ. “Hail Alma Mater, we, thy children sing!”