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Greensburg Central Catholic marks 60 years of education, service

Stephen Huba
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Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic Class of 1963 members (from left) Toni D. Herroscheck, Judy Nardizzi, Mike Alfery, Maria Kunkle and Lois Jean Mewherter pose for a portrait on Monday. Not pictured is alumna Marie Bishop.
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Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic High School alumnus Mike Alfery poses with his 1963 diploma and senior portrait on Monday.
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Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
Grace (Hensler) Alfery holds her husband Mike’s 1963 class yearbook. She graduated in 1964, and they married in 1967.
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Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic alumnus Mike Alfery chats with fellow graduate Judy Nardizzi at Monday’s 60th anniversary ceremony, while his grandchildren, Ben Tropeano, 12, and Meredith Tropeano, 17, look on.

Back in 1959, when Greensburg Central Catholic High School first opened, bishops railed against “the downward pull of secularism and paganism,” and priests and nuns kept students in line.

Much has changed in the Catholic Church in the 60 years since. But on Monday, the continuing appeal of a Catholic education was celebrated on the occasion of Greensburg Central Catholic’s 60th anniversary.

“As a community of faith, GCC is committed to preparing students to live the gospel’s values as Christian disciples. … At GCC, students can openly talk about faith in a caring environment,” Principal Ben Althof said.

Among those attending Monday’s prayer service and ribbon cutting was alumnus Mike Alfery, 74, of Youngwood.

He was part of the school’s first graduating class in 1963 and went on to own Alfery Overbrook Brand Meats. In addition to meeting his wife, Grace, at Greensburg Central Catholic, all four of their children attended, as do three of their grandchildren.

Alfery, who moved to Youngwood from Pittsburgh in 1958, said he was “more scared than a rabbit on the first day of hunting season” on his first day at Greensburg Central Catholic.

“I wasn’t greeted by a Father Bandura with a smile and a handshake. There had to be 50 stern-looking nuns here that day. … But we survived,” he said.

Alfery was referring to the Rev. Tyler Bandura, school chaplain, who led Monday’s prayer service and blessed the participants with holy water.

Alfery said he attended the school because his parents wanted him to. While there, he competed on the track team and served on student council. And he met his wife, Grace (Hensler) Alfery, in French class.

“French didn’t stick with me,” he said, “but she did for 52 years. Of the two, I’m glad I chose her.”

Alfery said he got a good education and a “good moral compass” from attending the school.

“You get … a commitment to marriage, family and your life’s work. And it makes you strive to be successful, and I think that’s what’s missing in the world today in a lot of instances. I’m extremely proud to be a graduate,” he said.

Other Class of 1963 members attending Monday’s service were: Judy Nardizzi, 74, of Greensburg; Toni D. Herroscheck, 74, of Greensburg; Maria Kunkle, 74, of Greensburg; Lois Jean Mewherter, 74, of Latrobe; and Marie Bishop, 74, of Delmont.

The women remember Greensburg Central Catholic as “a big deal” when it first opened. They especially remember the nuns.

“They were real strict with us,” Herroscheck said.

“We were scared,” Kunkle said.

The women also agreed that they got a good education and a good grounding in the Catholic faith.

Homecoming activities surrounding the 60th anniversary will kick off Oct. 11. An alumni tent will open at 5 p.m., a special recognition of previous homecoming queens, football players and coaches will be held at 6:30 p.m. before the 7 p.m. kickoff for Centurions game against Jeannette.

On Oct. 12, the anniversary celebration will continue with a Mass inside the gymnasium at 4 p.m. and a reception in the cafeteria at 5 p.m.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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