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Reconsidering Mooney move coincides with plea for funds

Published: Sun, July 14, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

The official explanation for Bishop George V. Murry’s decision to revisit his June 4 edict to keep Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown is that it may be cost prohibitive to remediate asbestos in the Erie Street building.

However, the timing of Murry’s reconsideration does give pause.

As most Catholics in the region know, the diocese is in the midst of one of its most important money-raising events, the Bishop’s Appeal.

Churchgoers are no doubt familiar with this message from Murry:

“Last year Catholic Charities served over 45,000 needy individuals and families in our diocese. Your support of the Bishop’s Appeal makes the work of Catholic Charities possible. Your support of the Appeal also helps fund diocesan ministries that promotes family life, the formation of youth and young adults, the sanctity of human life, religious education and others. For this reason, I ask in Jesus’ Name that you please respond generously to the 2013 Bishop’s Appeal.”

The goal for this year: $3,800,000.


A website that offers details about the drive provides insight into why Bishop Murry and the hierarchy of the diocese would want to avoid any controversy now. And make no mistake about it, the proposed relocation of Cardinal Mooney High School from Youngstown to Boardman is seeped in controversy.

The “Bishop’s Circle of Hope” is designed to persuade Catholics to dig deep when they are pledging their monetary support.

“As a member (of the Circle), you pledge to become partners in a shared vision for the future of the Diocese of Youngstown as you set an example of good stewardship and reach out with love to people and ministries in need of your assistance.”

There are six circles, and membership depends on how much is pledged.

Circle of Faith: $10,000 or more.

Circle of Mercy: $5,000 to $9,999.

Circle of Charity: $3,500 to $4,999.

Circle of Generosity: $2,000 to $3,499.

Circle of Compassion: $1,000 to $1,999.

Circle of Gratitude — $500 to $999.

With that in mind, consider some of the individuals who reportedly are leading the charge to build a new Mooney in Boardman. They are prominent alumni, parents of current students or former students, and their names have been mentioned for months: Bruno; Muransky; Reese. Then there’s the opinion of one of the most prominent Mooney alumnae, Denise DeBartolo York, that will carry a great deal of weight with the church. The proponents of relocation not only are committed to the school, but many are also major supporters of the Youngstown diocese.

Indeed, some of the movers and shakers at Mooney could well be “Circle of Faith” members.

The new school carries a price tag of $25 million, and there are reports that Bishop Murry has made it clear there must be a major commitment of private dollars before he would consider the proposal to move the school to the suburbs.

On the other hand, the asbestos remediation at the current school could cost $18 million.

All things considered — many parents of Mooney students have voiced concern about safety, given the school’s South Side location — it would be easier to raise money for the move than for dealing with the asbestos.

The school has been on Erie Street since 1956, but the then-vibrant city has undergone a major transformation since.

Today, the population is declining, neighborhoods are deteriorating and violent crimes continue to make headlines.

Parents who pay a lot of money to send their children to Mooney want a safe environment for them. But as Bishop Murry noted in June when he announced that the school would stay put, the diocese has an obligation to the city and its young people.

But all the bishop’s good intentions may have to give way to the financial realities surrounding Mooney’s future — and that of the Diocese of Youngstown.

The $3.8 million goal for the Bishop’s Appeal would be a challenge at any time, but in the midst of a slow national economic recovery, it looms large.

If Bishop Murry changes his mind and gives the green light to Mooney’s move, he will be able to persuasively argue that the asbestos remediation was too expensive an undertaking.

Catholics who are unwilling to assign ulterior motives to the head of the church in the area will be swayed. Others will contend that alienating well-heeled Catholics isn’t good for business.


1chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 3 years ago

Bert, you forgot the Circle of Hope. This is where the City of Youngstown "hopes" that Mooney will stay put so that it will not lose the City income tax paid by the non-city resident teachers, administrators, etc.

If Mooney leaves, the City officials will be running around in "circles" plotting how to have a JEDD for the new school.

no doubt that the city is unable to contribute substantially to the asbestos rmediation

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2questionreality(736 comments)posted 3 years ago

When will the Vindicator commit a random act of journalism -- a good off-agenda story that is the meat of reporting and reading. You know, a hidden story, a real story that gives journalism meaning. What we are getting is this: opinion, stenography and media obsession with topics that do not seem to be met with the same obsession by members of the ordinary public.

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3Millerh113(217 comments)posted 3 years ago

The kids who live in the city have an excellent public school system with new or renovated buildings, good teachers (who pay city wage taxes), new and visionary curricular offerings, presided over by an excellent superintendent. They don't need Mooney to provide them with a quality education if they want one. Why does Murry believe he has an obligation to educate the city's young people?

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4walter_sobchak(2727 comments)posted 3 years ago

I believe the $18M was the original figure for the renovation of the school but, once the contractors looked at the job, the number jumped up but not doubled. In any event, if the purpose of a catholic high school is to provide an avenue for catholic students to receive an education based in catholic teaching and philosophy, then the school should be in an area where the catholic children reside. Moving it south to Western Reserve Rd. provides this to the catholics that currently reside in Poland, Boardman, and Canfield while also tapping into the Columbiana area. Now, charging $8000 per year, IMHO, qualifies this school as a preparatory school and academics must be stressed. If students from Youngstown feel they need to leave the Youngstown City School system and attend a prep school, then they will be required to travel to it. But, I would not send my child to the South Side rat's nest, risking their life, and paying a huge sum of money for the "privilege".

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5mrblue(1175 comments)posted 3 years ago

It has been said many times in the past. It's all about the MONEY. The bishop is changing his mind because the Sunday collections are down. It's all about the MONEY.

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6jmagaratz(189 comments)posted 3 years ago

Proposal for DOY.....

1) consolidate Ursuline and Mooney--rename it "St. Columba Cathedral High School"

2) renovate current Ursuline site

3) have "new" school house grades 7-12

These are measures that incorporate principles of coordination, cooperation, and consolidation leading to greater efficiencies in the use of available resources

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7Letstryagain(218 comments)posted 3 years ago

If there is an issue, Bertram will write about, regardless of his understanding. I did not mention facts, because they generally play little importance in his writings.

Decisions are made every day without dollar bills in lead role. There are some that will forego donations if they don't get there way. There are some that may have more influence due to their support of the Church.

Most will continue their support when decisions are made against there desire, and there are many that will go to extremes not to use their influence for their own good, but will use it in support of a common good.

But Bertram, really, are you really trying to find some hidden conspiracy? Are you suggesting the Bishop might be blackmailed into a decision under the threat of losing funding from Youngstown area residents. Are you thinking that Catholics in the Diocese are vile enough to threaten the Bishop with the witholding or reduction of donations. If that is what you imply, I wish you would just come out and say it. Just be a man and come out and say it instead of insinuating with a comment here and a name drop there.

Your last paragraph,
"Catholics who are unwilling to assign ulterior motives to the head of the church in the area will be swayed. Others will contend that alienating well-heeled Catholics isn’t good for business."

deserves the respect of the divorce attorney asking the spouse " did you end your affair yet". Please, just a yes or no answer.

You probably proud of that clever ending, but It is shallow and empty, I can only pray it is not the reflection of the author.

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8DSquared(1788 comments)posted 3 years ago

They should both get out of town. These schools are in ghettos.

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