Diocesan News

St. Aloysius Alumni Recover A Piece of Parish History

by Antonina Zielinska

Although they graduated St. Aloysius School, Ridgewood, nearly half a century ago, alumni said they have not forgotten about the school that helped shape them.

Contents of a time capsule buried in the former St. Aloysius School building in Ridgewood include an essay on the school’s history, coins from the time, a donation card from the building campaign, and a copy of the Sept. 14, 1967 issue of The Tablet. (Photo by Antonina Zielinska)
Contents of a time capsule buried in the former St. Aloysius School building in Ridgewood include an essay on the school’s history, coins from the time, a donation card from the building campaign, and a copy of the Sept. 14, 1967 issue of The Tablet. (Photo by Antonina Zielinska)

Graduates of St. Aloysius have kept in touch through Facebook by creating an alumni page to share stories and old photos. At first, this served to simply share warm memories and connect with old friends.

However, when the now closed school building was sold to the city and construction workers began to work on the site, the Facebook page became the headquarters of a mission to save history. Several former students recalled that the faculty made a time capsule when the new school building opened.

That is when former student Donna Cassillo jumped into action. She first went to the current pastor of the parish, Father George Poltorak, S.A.C. However, he was unable to go on the grounds to retrieve the capsule because it was now city property.

That did not stop Cassillo. She started contacting city officials, since she did not want history to be forgotten.

“It was tough,” she said. “It took a lot of phone calls and persistence.”

She finally spoke with City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, who helped her through the red tape.

Alumna Carol Roesemann, who is married to another St. Aloysius alumnus, was among the people who came to see the time capsule be opened.

“I was there when it was placed behind the wall,” she said. “I just have many great memories of being there.”

Roesemann said she also remembers the day when the students moved from the old to the new school building. She recalled how boys and girls were paired together to move their desks. She said it was a lot of fun, and they got to go home early.

Construction workers on the site helped Crowley and the former students open the rectangular metal box with a torch.

Inside they found an essay recalling a bit of the school’s history and the events around the laying of the building cornerstone. There was also a donation card, a pamphlet and a bumper sticker from the building campaign; coins from the time; and a copy of the Sept. 14, 1967 issue of The Tablet, which cost 10 cents a copy.

The issue included a front-page article titled “Canada First to Use Whole Mass in English,” a youth editorial headlined “God Is Not Dead But Churches Are” and the lead article entitled “Milwaukee Priests’ Senate Asks Open Housing Bill.”

Below the fold on the front page is a photo of the St. Frances Cabrini parochial school with a question of whether Catholic education would survive, titled “Catholic Education: Past, Present And (?) Future.”

Roesemann said she was a little disappointed that there was nothing more personal but said it was nice to be able to preserve this part of history. She said she remembers reading The Tablet in her home with her family.

“It does bring back memories and catching up on what was happening in the diocese at the time,” she said.

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