The Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie hired Sereday’s of Masury to demolish the former Monsignor Geno J. Monti School and Fatima Hall in Farrell, a sad event for Catholics of a certain age.
Wade Daniels, formerly of Brookfield, attended the school from grades kindergarten through five, and he still keeps in contact with some of his Monti classmates.
“While I understand why it’s being demolished, it’s still sad to see,” said Daniels, of Columbus, who graduated from Brookfield High in 2008. “There is a small group of people that graduated from that school that still keep in touch via Facebook. I think the overwhelming sentiment is that MGM was home for a lot of us and that’s where a lot of lasting memories were made. I think that feeling of community, memories and home are tied to MGM, and that’s why this demolition is having such an effect on us.”
Joe and Jane Gentile’s ties to the building are much different. The Brookfield couple held their wedding reception in Fatima Hall in 1967, and his mother, Mary, was a head cook for the hall’s catering operation and one of its “cavatelli ladies.”
“Those are the cavatells that they served down at The Wave (in Sharon), and they serve at Muscarella’s (in Sharpsville),” Jane Gentile said. “It’s still the cavatells from Fatima Hall.”
Joe Gentile grew up around the corner from where the school was built. It opened in 1960, a year before he graduated from Farrell High.
“Back then,” weddings “were in the school halls and church halls,” Jane Gentile said, because there were no banquet or catering halls like there are now.
“It’s not a pretty place,” she said of the hall that could hold up to 700 people. “It was the school gym.”
An annual mardi-gras style Carnevale Continental and fish fries also were held in the hall.
The school closed at the end of the 2011-12 school year. The building’s kitchen was still in use until water pipes burst last winter, Daniels said. “Mold and mildew was all over the school, and it was becoming a health issue.”
“A lot of people saw a crumbling school, but there is a small group of us that saw home,” Daniels said. “I will miss seeing the school when I drive by the area, but the feeling of family and community I get from remembering the people at MGM will never go away.”
Jane Gentile sees the demolition as “a part of life.”
“They are cleaning up Farrell and they are doing so many improvements there that it has to happen,” she said.