Youngstown's bishop said a search for a new superintendent will begin soon.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown for 16 years, has accepted the same position with the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The Chicago archdiocese is the largest Catholic school system in the nation with nearly 130,000 pupils in 267 elementary schools and 45 high schools in two counties.
The six-county Youngstown diocese has 14,500 pupils in 45 elementary schools and six high schools.
'Difficult' decision: Wolsonovich, 57, could not be reached for comment but said in a news release that the decision to leave his hometown was difficult "because I have been blessed to have worked with so many wonderful people in the Diocese of Youngstown for these past 36 years."
He also said he will tackle his new job "in a way that is educationally first class, financially feasible and, most importantly, thoroughly Catholic."
Cardinal Francis George, Chicago archbishop, announced the appointment at a news conference Thursday in Chicago and introduced Wolsonovich, who takes the position July 1.
"After conducting a nationwide search, we believe that we have found a person with both the faith-based educational background and the professional experience that we have been looking for," Cardinal George said in a prepared statement.
"Dr. Wolsonovich takes responsibility for a system of demonstrated excellence. He will work to strengthen it."
Wolsonovich will replace Sister Judith Cauley and Janet Sisler, who have served as interim co-superintendents in Chicago since Dr. Elaine Schuster resigned as superintendent last year.
"Dr. Wolsonovich exhibited the best qualities of a wide-range of outstanding candidates," said Chancellor Jimmy Lago, chancellor of the Chicago archdiocese and head of the search committee that selected Wolsonovich.
His background: A 1962 graduate of The Rayen School, Wolsonovich began his career with Youngstown diocese schools in 1966 as a teacher at St. Edward School in Youngstown. He also was a high school guidance counselor, diocese director of government programs and curriculum and Ursuline High School principal before being named superintendent in 1985.
Thomas Tobin, Youngstown bishop, said a search will begin shortly to replace Wolsonovich "so that the important work of Catholic education here will continue to prosper and grow."
In recent years, Wolsonovich has led the effort to expand the school year and beef up teacher training in an effort dubbed the Cornerstones of Excellence.
Last year, he announced the establishment of a $3.4 million Diocesan Catholic School Scholarship Fund in the name of his first wife, Mary Ellen Cushwa, who died in 1998. The fund will help offset the cost of increasing tuition for parochial school pupils.
He also led the school system through difficult closings of St. Patrick and St. Anthony schools in Youngstown in 1996 and St. Dominic School in 1999. St. Patrick reopened as New Hope Academy, an ecumenical school run by the diocese, the Lutheran Church and the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown.