When my parents moved up to Ossining from Yonkers in 1957, they missed St Theresa’s, less than a mile away in Briarcliff, and somehow found St Ann’s. There, they met Monsignor Marino, who said that yes, they lived in the parish. And for 40 years, as my brothers and I attended St Ann school, my mother was active in the Parents Guild (she was the one who changed the name from the “mother’s guild,” liberated woman that she was) & choir while my father was a lector. My dad always laughed that the pastor was glad they never made that left turn that day.
The baby boom prompted the parish to start a school in about 1960, and my oldest brother was in St Ann’s first graduating class of 1965. I graduated in 1981, and by my time arrived the school was suffering from the tough times of that period. The nuns who staffed almost the entire place were all but gone, replaced by 20-somethings (my dad said that if he had the teachers I had, he’d have stayed back a few years). My 8th grade year was perhaps the lowest ebb for the school. Enrollment was down to fewer than 120 children and the talk was that the days were numbered. The year after I graduated, they had to install a lay principal for the first time in the school’s history.
However, Mrs. Muccigrosso would oversee the school for two decades before taking a higher position for the Archdiocese, and under her stewardship the school prospered. Enrollment increased, and they even expanded the building for a pre school and large library. When I moved back home to Ossining in 2000 and attended a reunion, I was stunned at the progress. We had come so far from the talk of closure when I was 13.
Sadly, the prosperity would not last. Many families, including my own, migrated from St Ann’s to St Augustine’s over the past 10 years. Our reason for moving was simple: in the decision to send our children to parochial school, we thought it best to go where my nephews already went. Switching parishes wasn’t easy, as I was baptized, confirmed and married there. Overall, we had been in the parish family 49 years. The numbers shift up North Highland Avenue took its toll, and the Archdiocese named St Ann’s to the list of 27 closures earlier this month.
Closed Catholic schools never re-open; teachers and staff will have to find new jobs and typically over half the pupils are absorbed into the public school system. The remainder will transfer to another private school. Although we left, I always wished them well. The parish remains, but without a school. It is the end of an era that lasted half a century, and despite how long that seems, it was all too brief.