Cathedral Academy Class of 1953 starts scholarship

The Cathedral Academy Class of 1953 has started a scholarship fund for Cathedral Academy at Pompei in honor of Sister Mary Jane Wilcox, DC, a member of the class who died earlier this year. Sister Mary Jane, born Shirley Wilcox, was principal of Cathedral School for 10 years at its original site on Montgomery Street.

Gerald N. (Jerry) Hoffman, class president, said that the idea for the scholarship came from John Connors, another class member, who has been a great financial supporter of Cathedral for many years. Hoffman is inviting all Cathedral alumni and others who knew Sister Mary Jane and her large family from the city’s west side to consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Cathedral Academy at Pompei.

Checks should be sent to Dr. Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt, principal, Cathedral Academy at Pompei, 923 North McBride St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13208.
Hoffman met with Schmidt recently and took a tour of the school, whose motto is “an international school in the Roman Catholic tradition.” A majority of the students are the offspring of refugees, most of whom come from African nations. He was told that it is not unusual for these students to be able to speak fluently in four or more languages.

“Having gone to the original Cathedral Academy from 5th to 12th grade and treasuring the great education we received there, I am very proud that the fine school that exists today continues to carry on the Cathedral Academy name,” Hoffman said. “Walking through the halls with Dr. Schmidt was like a step back into the past, reminiscent of the Cathedral of our youth. In those days, we had students from orphanages, the inner-city before it was called that, as well as students from middle-class backgrounds. The interaction with a diverse student body was a very important part of our education.”

Hoffman said he fondly recalls then-Father Frank J. Harrison who was to become bishop of the Syracuse. Bishop Harrison was athletic director and basketball coach at Cathedral and also taught some classes there. Sister Mary Jane Wilcox’s brother Ron was a three-star athlete at Cathedral in the mid- to late-1940s. A younger brother, Jerry, has been one of the area’s most successful high school basketball coaches. John Connors attended the Manlius School after graduating from Cathedral and went to St. Bonaventure University, where he was co-captain of the basketball team. He was later elected to the St. Bonaventure Hall of Fame.

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