As teachers begin first full year in CSI, they reflect on time in St. Rita’s

The building, which has been converted into a space for the nurses’ office, was formerly home to teacher offices and lounges for 30 years.

Joe Lister and Ian Lebano

St. Rita’s history doesn’t even begin with it’s time as a teacher space, according to Mr. John Ostick.

“The house [was] being used as a rectory for the priests.” Ostick said. “There were bedrooms, there was a kitchen, TV room, living room, and as soon as you walked in, there was a chapel, with an altar and shares for mass and spiritual reflection.”

Ostick was in St. Ritas for the entire time that it was a teacher space, about 30 years by his estimation.

Ostick is very proud of the space that he used to call home on campus, and believes that he was in one of the best spaces around.

“In my opinion it was probably the best gathering place on campus,” he said. “In fact, it was probably the best faculty house in the United States.”

Mr. Jason Sammartino was in St. Rita’s for about four years before he moved to the St. Augustine’s Center for Social Impact, and he believes that the people are what made the space special.

“That’s where I’d say a lot of my friendships on campus were formed, just from being in that room and getting to talk to people every day,” he said.

All of those relationships came naturally for Sammartino, and they weren’t necessarily expected.

“I think it was this organic kind of formation where people, you know, put their stuff down at a table,” he said. “We would start a conversation…. and it would just spiral and it would become this really neat community.”

Ms. Theresa Lohse spent between 10-15 years in St. Rita’s, and says that she became incredibly close with those she spent time with in St. Rita’s.

“I think in general, here in Malvern, the faculty and staff are just kind of a close knit group. But I think just by virtue of the fact that in between every class, there was a group of us that was always together,” she said. “And we certainly got to know each other. It was kind of like a second family.”

For Lohse, that closeness that she felt with others is what defined her time in St. Rita’s

Mrs. Michele DelGiorno spent 6 ½ years in St. Rita’s, and thought that what made the lounge the space that it became was the way herself and those she worked with connected with each other.

“It just kind of evolved and personalities just mesh together,” she said. “And we just made it the very fun work atmosphere.”

As teachers prepared to leave their offices in St. Rita’s for the new hubs in the CSI, they left a space that they had known for years, and the move wasn’t exactly easy.

For Lohse, the emotional impact took place alongside the physical burden of moving years of possessions to a new space.

“It definitely was emotional, many of us brought in suitcases,” she said. “It was a packing up process and moving and it was very nostalgic too.”

For Ostick, the movement was different in the change to his normal routine, one he had known for decades.

“Anytime humans make change, there’s some pain and grumbling and sadness,” he said. “Because human beings flock together, and don’t, for the most part, enjoy change.”

While approaching a year in the CSI, Ostick still refers to St. Rita’s the “best faculty house”. However, his former office was so much more to him.

“It was more than a building. It was more than a seat in a room. It was a gathering place of beautiful people.”