Bishop Canevin High School is named for Archbishop John Francis Regis Canevin, born June 5, 1853, in Beatty (now called Latrobe), who rose to become the fifth Bishop of Pittsburgh, the first native son to hold this office. He governed the diocese from 1904 until 1921, spending his days as Chief Shepherd of the Pittsburgh Diocese, truly reflecting his motto that “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Ps. 126).
After receiving his early education at schools in his native city, he entered St. Vincent College in 1871 and later St. Vincent Seminary in 1875. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1879. Canevin’s first assignment was as a curate at St. Mary’s Church in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where he remained until 1881. He then served in the same capacity at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh for five years.
In 1886, he became chaplain at St. Paul’s Orphan Asylum and the Western Penitentiary, as well as pastor of the mission in Canonsburg. He served as chancellor of the Diocese of Pittsburgh from 1888 until 1893, when he became pastor of St. Philip’s Church in Crafton. He was named rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1895. On January 16, 1903, Canevin was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Pittsburgh and Titular Bishop of Sabratha by Pope Leo XIII. He received his episcopal consecration on February 24th from Archbishop Patrick John Ryan, with Bishops John W. Shanahan and Leo Michael Haid serving as co-consecrators.
Upon the death of Bishop Richard Phelan, Canevin succeeded him to become the fifth Bishop of Pittsburgh on December 20, 1904. He was the first American and the first native son of the diocese to become a bishop. After 16 years as bishop, Canevin retired due to ill health on January 9, 1921; he was appointed Titular Archbishop of Pelusium by Pope Benedict XV on the same date. He later died at Mercy Hospital at age 73 and is buried at St. Mary Cemetery in Lawrenceville.
1958 Groundbreaking – 1959 Dedication
In 1958, His Excellency, the Most Reverend John F. Dearden, Bishop of Pittsburgh, announced that a high school intended to serve the Chartiers Valley was to be erected on 17 acres of diocesan property adjacent to St. Paul’s Orphanage, now St. Paul’s Seminary. The ground was broken for Canevin High School on this site on August 17, 1958. The completed building was dedicated on November 22, 1959, by the Most Reverend John J. Wright. The first headmaster, The Reverend Leo G. Henry, opened the school to a freshman class of 217 boys and 218 girls in September 1959. Under Father Henry, a faculty was assembled from five communities of sisters, and supplemented by two laymen.
1960’s: Franciscan Influence and Leadership
With the addition of successive classes each year, three more communities of sisters were added to the faculty. Bishop Wright also sought a community of priests and brothers to administer the school and staff the boys’ division. In 1961 a contract was signed between the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Province of the Immaculate Conception of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, entrusting the administration of the entire school to them.
A pioneer contingent of eight Conventual Franciscan priests joined the faculty under Father Henry for the 1961-1962 school year. The full co-institutional character of Canevin High School was realized with the installment of Reverend Gervase M. Beyer, O.F.M. Conv. At the beginning of the 1962-1963 school year, Canevin housed two separate faculties, one for boys and one for girls. Members of the communities of the Sister of St. Agnes, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Divine Providence, Felician Sisters, Sisters of St. Francis (Millvale), Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore, Sisters of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) and Sisters of Mercy all served at Canevin. A number of laymen and laywomen also served on both faculties. In 1963, Canevin High School received Pennsylvania State Accreditation.
On Sunday, June 2, 1963, the Most Reverend John J. Wright presided at the first Canevin Commencement at the Syria Mosque in Oakland; 151 boys and 152 girls were in the first graduating class. In March of 1965, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools Evaluation Committee reviewed Canevin High School and endorsed the school’s accreditation by January 1966.
1970 – 2000: A Time of Transition
During the 1970-1971 school year, the newly appointed headmaster, Reverend Canice Connors, O.F.M. Conv. shifted Canevin toward a more integrated co-educational school, improving the variety and quality of the curriculum, professional staff, and building facilities. Under the leadership of Reverend Julian Zambanini, O.F.M. Conv., Headmaster (1972-1975), Canevin prepared for its ten-year re-evaluation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
The early seventies were a time of transition for Canevin High School. In the summer of 1975, Reverend Robert Sochor, O.F.M. Conv. who had been teaching at Canevin for seven years, became Headmaster. Then, the Diocese of Pittsburgh assumed responsibility for the administration of the high school in 1976, and Reverend Donald J. Sotak became Headmaster. A precedent was set in January 1979 when Mr. John Maurer assumed the leadership of Canevin. Mr. Maurer was the first lay headmaster of a diocesan district high school. The more than twenty-two years that Mr. Maurer served as Headmaster is the longest tenure of any Canevin Headmaster. Under his leadership, Canevin Catholic High School celebrated the thirty-fifth anniversary of its founding and also underwent a fourth evaluation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Once again, Canevin Catholic was not only given accreditation but was likewise cited for having an outstanding academic program. The sixth Middle States Evaluation occurred in 1995, and since that time Canevin Catholic has maintained a fully accredited status.
2000’s: New Leadership and Ignatian Spirituality
At the end of the 2001-2002 school year, Mr. Maurer retired and Mr. Kenneth Sinagra was named Principal of Canevin Catholic High School beginning with the 2002-2003 school year. In November 2002, the new school administration and advisory board petitioned the diocese to formally change the name of the school to Bishop Canevin High School to reflect its Catholic identity and to emphasize its roots as a diocesan school named after the prominent bishop.
During the 2004-05 school year, Bishop Canevin High School underwent its fifth evaluation by the Middle States Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. Under the new Validating the Vision model, Bishop Canevin once again received accreditation for the next seven years. On March 29, 2007, under the auspices of Diocesan Administrator, Most Reverend Paul Bradley, Bishop Canevin High School was officially incorporated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with the official name being Bishop Canevin High School, Inc. A Board was approved, with 13 directors installed under a new set of by-laws.
Mr. Michael P. McGinley, Class of 1969, was selected as Bishop Canevin’s first Chairman of the Board. In 2010, Mr. McGinley was elected for a second term. In January 2012, the school administration entered into a cooperative agreement with Holy Family Institute (HFI) to begin an International Education program, enrolling 17 students from China who would receive their high school education and an ultimate diploma from Bishop Canevin. The students resided at the dormitories of HFI from where they received ESL studies, academic enrichment, social programs and transportation to and from the high school.
In July 2012, the Board of Directors petitioned the diocese to move to a new administrative structure for Bishop Canevin utilizing the president/principal model. The Board further indicated their choice of Mr. Kenneth Sinagra to be the selected president. The diocese approved the recommendation and Mr. Sinagra was selected as the first President of Bishop Canevin. Simultaneously, Mrs. Karen Walker was selected as the new principal, the first female principal in the school’s history. In the 2012-13 school year, the Board of Directors would undertake an in-depth long-range planning project.
One of the first actions of the administration, faculty, and Board of Directors was to approve a new Mission Statement, Philosophy and Grad-at-Grad foundational documents that outlined an alignment with the Ignatian Spirituality and Pedagogy, promulgated in high schools and universities operated by the Society of Jesus. For the 2015-16 school year, the Board of Directors and administration agreed that going forward, the school and its students would be best served by returning to its previous administrative structure led by Mr. Sinagra as principal and Mrs. Walker as assistant principal.
Upon Mr. Sinagra’s retirement in June 2018, the Bishop Canevin Board of Directors appointed Mr. Michael Joyce as principal. Mr. Joyce arrived at Bishop Canevin after serving as a teacher and administrator in Catholic Schools for 11 years. For the 2018-2019 school year Mr. Joyce established an administrative team, promoting two existing faculty members into administrative roles, with Mrs. Lori Rossi serving as Vice Principal and Mr. Joseph Romano serving as Dean of Students and Director of Activities.
For the 2021-22 school year the administrative team under Mr. Joyce underwent a reconfiguration with Mrs. Rossi becoming the full time Vice Principal and Mr. Dale Checketts taking on the responsibilities of Activities Director in addition to his role as Athletic Director. Under Mr. Joyce’s leadership the rich tradition of Bishop Canevin is honored while implementing new technology in classrooms, an Innovation Lab, the Broadcast Studio and a new fitness center. All of this allows for a renewed dedication to fostering 21st Centrury thinkers, doers and leaders from the Bishop Canevin body of students.