For almost eight years I attended St. Aloysius Catholic School until we moved to Baltimore Maryland in the middle of the eighth grade. The next half year my sisters and I would attend St. Bernadine’s Catholic School while mom and dad rented a “row house” in Baltimore, Maryland until they found the home in Ellicott City, a suburban area of Baltimore, to purchase. A photo of hit omes similar to the row house which mom and dad rented in Baltimore is to the right. Homes like this had been built in the early 1900’s and had one bathroom and several bedrooms. It wasn’t a good neighborhood but it was close to the school and a major highway. The home had been rented for a time, as there were numerous paint colors behind the refrigerator in the kitchen. There was a small fenced yard in the back and an alley behind. Rag men would drive their carts and horses through the alley. Dad had been working for KDKA television as a technician and camera man. He applied for and was hired for a job as an Engineer at the Westinghouse plant in Baltimore, Maryland. He would be able to attend Johns Hopkins University near Baltimore to earn his Electrical Engineering Degree. The school work would take seven years. Dad would graduate Summa Cum Laude from the McCoy College of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. While working at KDKA dad was not able to attend school because his position required him to work some night shifts. Dad had applied for a managerial position at KDKA, but was told that the position would require him to attend conferences and events where drinking was required – that seems strange to me. Dad seldom drank alcohol and refused to do so just to obtain the position.
What was it like at St. Aloysius Catholic School? Until that final year classes had been held in a large building that housed the Church, convent and school. It was an old structure, one that we students often thought of as a “fire trap”. Whether it was or not, I don’t have any knowledge. The Church part of the structure had high ceilings and a magnificent wooden Gothic altar piece which contained niches for statues of saints. There was an altar rail at which we knelt and received Communion. Girls were not allowed to be altar servers. There were no lay lectors. I don’t remember any lay deacons either. I have often wondered what happened to that Altar piece and Communion rail, as the new building was a multi-pupose building where we attended Mass in a multipurpose room that reminded me of a gymnasium. The new building had classrooms above the multi-purpose room. During the years I attended the school and church, Fr. Young was the pastor and the Sisters of Notre Dame were the teachers. There was a large two story brick home next to the church/school building for a rectory and home for the priest. The sisters wore traditional habits during my years there. It was not until the 1960’s that Vatican II allowed changes to both the Church services and the habits of the sisters. The photo above left is the new school and church building built in 1957. The rectory can be seen to the right of it ,while the convent is to the left.
“St. Aloysius was established in 1892. Before the organization of the parish, local Catholics had to travel to Most Holy Name parish on Troy Hill to attend Mass, or, for the children, to attend school. Because of the difficulties in traveling to Troy Hill, particularly in winter, local Catholics decided that they needed a church of their own. On November 26, 1891, the first organizational meeting for a new parish was held. In 1892, a petition was sent to the bishop asking for permission to form a new parish. On April 12, 1892, the bishop visited the area, inspected the site chosen for the church and gave his permission to build the church.
Plans were made to construct a building that would hold not only the church, but also a school and a residence for a priest. The cornerstone for the new church was laid on July 10, 1892 and the completed building was dedicated on January 8, 1893. At first the parish was a mission of Most Holy Name but a resident pastor was assigned in June of 1893.
In 1905, a new rectory was built. The space in the building that had been used as the rectory was converted into a convent. By 1919, the church building was in need of extensive repairs. The existing steeple was replaced and the facade of the building was remodeled. In 1921, the interior of the church was also redecorated. The church was again renovated in 1947.
By the 1950’s, the parish had expanded to the point that it needed a new church and school. On May 5, 1957, ground was broken for a new church and school building. The cornerstone was laid on July 10, 1957, and the completed building was dedicated on October 4, 1958. During this time, the old church/school building was demolished.”
In 1980, the interior of the church was renovated and new stained glass windows installed.
Photo of me in Communion clothes with grandma and grandpa to the left. The year would have been 1952 as grandpa died in December of 1954. In one of dad’s photographs I saw a photo of me with Denise Garrison at the Crowning of Mary, the May Queen. I can’t find the photo right now.
Jean and Christine attended St. Aloysius also. I remember a couple of incidents during my years there.
- In the fifth or sixth grade I was asked to clean up after both my sisters who had thrown up at school. I threw up as well and had to clean up my mess too.
- During the fifth or sixth grade I was asked to used the push broom to sweep the classroom. I had been waiting to do this, as our sister rotated the job around the students. It looked like fun. I had never used one before and as I was trying, Sister stopped me, as she stated that she couldn’t believe that I didn’t know how to use one. I think she gave the broom to someone else.
- In the first grade we had to stay after school if we didn’t complete our numbers. We were using paper numbers and setting them on our desk. When I completed mine, I think that I knocked someone else’s off her desk as I put my coat on. I had to do it all over again.
- There were only 12 students in my classes during all my years there. The other classes had more children. As I was born just after the end of World War II that must have been the reason for the small class.
- In the fifth or sixth grade our teacher looked directly at me as she related that some little girl had kissed a boy on the play ground at recess. I knew that it had to be Christine. We were not allowed to play with the opposite sex at recess.
- During the seventh grade I went to the Daily Mass as I liked to sing with the choir. Sr. Geraldine, the principal, was also the organist. At one point she asked me to stand behind everyone as my voice was disturbing her. It was then that I realized that I am not able to sing on key or in tune with others. Well, so be it. God gave me this voice, so He must like it when I sing.
I wrote to St. Aloysius Parish to see if there are photos of the old Church available. I have not heard back from them yet and may never – but I hope they will respond. It has been nearly two months and they have not responded. Too bad. It might have been nice to re-connect with the place of my childhood.