KANSAS CITY — As St. Pius X High School approaches its 60th anniversary year, great things are happening! Principal Joe Monachino, Jr. and school officials are excited to announce the receipt of the largest single donation in the school’s history from Fred Ross, Jr. (class of 76). His $1 million donation to St. Pius X is being directed to renovating the former convent on the school’s campus, a project estimated to cost $1.5 million. Plans for the building include fine arts classrooms, a new broadcasting home for Catholic Radio and a large multipurpose area for meetings, celebrations and retreats.
Fred Ross, Jr. is the eldest of Fred and Rosalie Ross’ 12 children: [Fred (76), Ruth (77), Marie (78), John (80), Francis (81), Linda Loehr (83), Chris (84), Jim (88), Joe (89), Lisa Young (92), Rosalie Brashears (93) and Vince (97)]. All the Ross siblings attended Holy Cross School in northeast Kansas City before enrolling at St. Pius. In fact, Monachino commented that since Fred started at St. Pius in 1972, there has only been one year when no member of the Ross family attended the high school. During the past academic year, five of Fred and Rosalie Ross’s grandchildren were in attendance.
Catholic education has always been a priority to Fred and Rosalie in raising their family. In honor of their commitment to faith in education, the former convent will be renamed, “The Fred and Rosalie Ross Fine Arts and Activity Center.”
Fred (Jr.) said that he is both “humbled and honored” to be able to give a donation to St. Pius X in the name of his parents who sacrificed to help provide him and his siblings with an exceptional education and preparation for success.
In the spring of 1954, a committee comprised of men from Parkville, Liberty, North Kansas City and Excelsior Springs met with St. Joseph diocesan Coadjutor-Bishop John Cody to develop a plan to raise the money to build a new co-educational high school to serve Clay and Platte counties. By the end of Aug., $411,327 had been raised. By 1956, the school was under construction.
St. Pius X opened that year, with freshman and sophomore classes taught at St. Michael the Archangel (now St. Gabriel Archangel) School. In April 1957, Bishop Cody dedicated the building and those 42 students moved into their new school.
Ground was broken and construction begun on a convent in 1958. Designed to be expandable, the convent was built to house 19 Sisters, up to 30 if needed. The convent was completed and dedicated in 1959.
The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth taught at St. Pius through the early 1990s. In 1991, the convent was leased to the Mercedarian Sisters of Berriz. The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles moved into the convent in 2006. The convent has been vacant since 2011, when the Benedictines moved into their newly built monastery in Gower.
St. Pius X High School recently acquired the convent building.
Current plans for its renovation include converting the ground floor to new rooms for Fine Arts classes. The first floor will become the new broadcasting home of The Catholic Radio Network and its current 10 stations. The second floor will be transformed into a gathering hall for banquets, celebrations, and meeting space. And finally, the roof of the convent is being considered for a future garden area.
Not only will it add space for the music and arts classes and the high school’s Sarton Singers, the second floor could be used as a multi-purpose, banquet hall, classrooms if needed, meeting rooms, and there is space for overnight stays if needed. Also the view from the roof is beautiful.
“This gift from Fred is a transformational gift for our school. It opens the doors for us to begin major upgrades to our campus and athletic facilities. We are hopeful that the stewardship exhibited by Fred will inspire others in our community to join in our efforts to improve the day to day experiences of the current and future students at St. Pius X. We have a tradition of 60 wonderful years providing our students with a strong, Catholic education and we look forward to preparing our campus for the next 60 years,” Monachino said.
With the receipt of this donation, St. Pius X was able to begin construction on the convent in May. The first phase of work is scheduled to be completed in early fall. This will continue the campus upgrades that started with a complete site renovation, including doubling the size of the parking lot, updating security and adding permanent fencing around the back of the property (2015); continued with a new roof (2016); and will follow with exterior paint and heating and cooling units (Fall 2016). St. Pius X looks forward to maintaining its tradition of spiritual and academic excellence, including the opportunity to embark on a capital campaign to expand and improve the athletic programs.
“At St. Pius X, we are committed to providing all families, large (like the Ross Family) or small, an opportunity for an outstanding Catholic Education. Maintaining and improving our facilities shows our commitment to Catholic Education in the northland of Kansas City. Let us work together to live the motto of St. Pius X which is to Restore all Things in Christ,” said Monachino, “What a time to be a Saint Pius X Warrior!”