Catholics move to southern Mahoning, but Mooney decision still pending

By Denise Dick


There’s been no recommendation about whether Cardinal Mooney High School will move, but a study has determined that the Catholic population has shifted from the city to the suburbs.

Nick Wolsonovich, superintendent of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, Office of Catholic Schools, said a study undertaken about a year ago includes several components that will factor into the decision on whether to move the school.

Those factors include enrollment projections, demographics, finances, feasibility and fundraising.

“All of those components must be weighed in making the recommendation,” the superintendent said.

The demographics portion of the study has found that the preponderance of Mahoning County’s Catholic population has shifted from the city to the suburbs over the past several years, Wolsonovich said.

He stressed though that that’s only one consideration in the decision.

The Rev. Gerald DeLucia, Mooney president, said he, the school’s board of directors and officials from the diocese plan to meet next week with city officials as well as representatives of the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing our Neighborhoods, or ACTION.

“We want them to know where we’re coming from and to hear what they have to say,” the Rev. Mr. DeLucia said.

Although as a Catholic school, Mooney must consider where the Catholic population is centered, the city students who attend the school also are part of the equation, he said.

Wolsonovich expects the school’s board of directors to make a recommendation to the bishop this month. Bishop George Murry will make the final decision.

“The bishop is expected to make a decision before the end of the school year,” Mr. DeLucia said.

Last year, the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown hired Catholic School Management Inc. of Madison, Conn., to conduct a feasibility study of moving the school versus renovating and updating the existing structure on the city’s South Side.

A group of alumni had approached the diocese about moving the school to where the county’s population is moving.

An earlier survey by the company determined that most of those interviewed supported a move.

The cost of building a school, estimated at between $24 million and $25 million versus the estimated cost to upgrade the existing school at $18 million also will be a factor in the decision.

Needed repairs include a new roof, windows and a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

Supporters of the move have talked about a location between Poland and Canfield that’s close enough to the Columbiana County line to attract students from that area.

Mooney has been on the city’s South Side since 1956. Mayor Charles Sammarone sent a letter to Bishop Murry last year, urging him to keep the school in the city.

About a third of the school’s 580 students live in the city, with the majority coming from the suburbs including some from Columbiana County, officials have said.

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