By Bill Cleary
For the past several years we have been hearing about the plans for a new Catholic high school being built in Gloucester County. An off and on during that period it was mentioned that Gloucester Catholic would be moving from Gloucester City to the new school. At first the Camden Diocese denied the rumor but it appears now that in fact the hearsay was true.
Photo by John Ryan: Gloucester Catholic High School, (circa 1986) formerly St. Mary's High School, located at Monmouth and Burlington Streets.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (June 18th issue) http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/, reported the new school will be located on Route 77 in Mullica Hill across from the county 4H Fairgrounds.
The article stated, “The diocese is moving forward with the high school, its first in the county, at the same time a shift in the region's Catholic population has led it to close nine elementary schools and make plans to merge 66 parishes. Gloucester Catholic has been located in Gloucester City for 78 years. A formal announcement of the Mullica Hill project is expected this summer.”
It saddens me that my former high school, I graduated with the Class of 1963, will be leaving our City. Even though the plans call for the name of the new school to be called Gloucester Catholic it won’t be the same.
In my view the Diocese is abandoning our Blue Collar town. And it could care less about the damage it will do to our City by leaving two vacant buildings in the heart of our community. There was some talk about making the High School into a regional grammar school but I never heard anymore about that story.
The Cleary Family has a long history with Gloucester Catholic. My sister Dolores Raube graduated in 1956 from GCHS, my brother George graduated in 1959. And other members of our family are also GCHS graduates.
My sister was a cheerleader and I can remember my grandma making her "Pom Poms" out of maroon and gold gray paper. I also recall the football and baseball games at the Charles Street stadium. The Friday night dances, The Black Sock and White Sock class election, our small gym where our fans became the sixth man on the court. Shooting hoops with football coach Joe Murphy who always won; hanging out with the guys from South Camden on the corner at Gords, having to wear a suit jacket and tie to class, no jeans or sneakers for us.
Back in the 60’s the majority of the teachers were the Dominican nuns and priests from throughout the diocese. There were only a small number of lay teachers. One priest we called “Knuckles”. If you were disrupting the class, which of course I never did, he would punish you by slapping your knuckles with a ruler. Ouch! I didn’t dare go home and tell my father that Sister “So and So” or Father “So and So” hit me as I would get punished all over again. I laugh about that memory now.
No matter what the Diocese says the new Gloucester Catholic will not be the one I remember and fondly recall.
If you are a Gloucester Catholic graduate please share your memories and your opinion about the school moving. Please include your name and the year you graduated. Send to BillGCN@verizon.net