Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh


St. Joseph High School Students work on experiments in the Robotics Lab at St. Joseph High School, Natrona Heights.


Working on the cutting edge of new technology in the oil and natural gas industry, Madalyn Bergard thanks her Catholic high school for sparking her interest in science.

“From my time in the robotics lab, I knew I wanted to do something hands on,” Bergard said.

Bergard used college credits earned at St. Joseph High School in Natrona Heights and graduated in three years from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Today she’s an environmental health and safety manager, traveling to well sites around the country.

Continuing to improve technology remains a top priority in the diocese. All 12 Catholic secondary schools will receive grants from Our Campaign for The Church Alive!, supported by the sacrificial gifts of approximately 130,000 individuals and families.

“These investments expose our students to career options they may never have imagined,” St. Joseph principal Beverly Kaniecki said. “Technology will apply to you no matter which career you choose.  We want our students to be among tomorrow’s leaders and innovators, using their God-given talents to create a better society for all of us.”

The funding will provide cyber security, tech-based physical plant security, and upgraded networks and technology infrastructure.

“We need to have the safest environment possible while enhancing educational programs,” said Tim Chirdon, principal of Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport. “The grant also allows us to embrace a project we didn’t think was possible—converting our library into a modern media center with access to e-books and an audio/video recording lab.”

Developing the grant request for each school was a collaborative process led by the General Secretary of the diocese. Representatives of the diocesan Department of Information Technology worked closely with leadership from each high school over several months to review technology benchmarks and best practices, and assess their technology-driven security and infrastructure.

Educators in turn shared their strategic plans for technology, including curriculum goals and needs. The funding recommendations generated from this cooperative effort were given final review by each school to ensure that the individual request reflected their objectives and unique circumstances.

“We were pleased with the collaboration to determine the needs of our school and how they fit with the purpose of the grant,” said Dottie Alke, a member of the board of directors at Bishop Canevin High School in Oakwood. “The funding demonstrates the commitment to making investments in technology.”

“Part of this grant will allow our students to carry out experiments using state of the art sensors and probes, which will enhance our data collection and analysis capabilities,” said Maria Diaz, chemistry and physics teacher at Quigley Catholic High School in Baden. “Graduates will be better prepared to face the challenges of our technology-filled modern world.”

The grants will enable Catholic high schools to meet current and future curriculum and educational goals, providing shared learning within a campus, among and between schools, and globally.

“These important investments will ensure our high schools have the technology infrastructure to support the information formats needed for today’s curriculum and for years ahead,” said Father Lawrence DiNardo, General Secretary for the diocese.

“The grant helps us improve safety and security in our STEM building, providing the best possible learning environment,” said Brother Tony Baginski, principal of Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

At Holy Family Academy in Emsworth, funds will be used in part to build a fabrication laboratory or “FabLab,” a digital workshop equipped with high-tech tools to support learning and innovation, according to head of school Lisa Abel-Palmieri.

Students and educators are grateful for the funding.

“I’m extremely appreciative of the supporters of this campaign as their generosity is making a tremendous difference,” Chirdon said. “This will help us maintain vibrant Catholic schools, with an impact that will last a lifetime.”

St. Joseph High School Students work on experiments in the Robotics Lab at St. Joseph High School, Natrona Heights.

St. Joseph High School Students work on experiments in the Robotics Lab at St. Joseph High School, Natrona Heights.