For many years, the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught at Our Lady of Lourdes parish schools were unable to attend nighttime activities. That included football games.

For many years, the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught at Our Lady of Lourdes parish schools were unable to attend nighttime activities. That included football games.
“They wouldn’t have any idea if we’d won a game or not, so we started going by the convent, at Ninth and Locust, if we had won a game and singing ‘Good Night Irene’, a song that was popular at the time,” said Jim Russian, Pittsburg, a 1952 graduate of St. Mary’s High School, now St. Mary’s-Colgan.
He added that sometimes the nuns would already be in bed and wouldn’t come outside.
“Those nights they would flip their light switch,” Russian said.
Frank Crespino also has fond memories of the nuns. A 1951 graduate, he’s also a retired coach who led the Colgan Panthers to several state championships.
“When I joined the faculty in 1961, I was the only lay person in the building,”  Crespino said. “When I left in 1987, there was only one sister left, and one who was volunteering at the school. During the 1960s, I don’t think we could have kept the schools going without the nuns and the priests teaching there. I don’t think we could ever repay them for what they did.”
In the early years, Russian said, parents usually took drove the football players to out-of-town games, or else take the Gordon Transit Bus.
“Our practice field was where Colgan is now,” Russian said.  “It was covered in glass, rocks and chat.”
“Sometimes we’d walk to Jaycee Park to practice,” Crespino said.
“And when we got to practice on grass, we thought we were in heaven,” Russian added.
The late Pete Murry started the Quarterback Club, which was able to raise funds for the football program.
“That eventually became the Booster Club, which does outstanding things for the school now, and not just athletics,” Crespino said.
On Sept. 19 the football team serenaded the nuns for the last time. Sisters Patrice Joyce, Paula Marie Metz and Charlotte Zelnik have left Pittsburg and returned to the Mount St. Mary’s Motherhouse in Wichita.
It was a very sentimental time, according to John Kraus, president of schools at St. Mary’s and director of administration of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
“Jim VanBecelaere was there, and I said that it was really good for him to come for the last football singing,” Kraus said. “He said, ‘I was here for the first sing, and it’s appropriate I’m here for the last one’.”
He added that some of the football players might try to continue the tradition long-distance.
“One of the players asked if they couldn’t call the nuns on a cell phone and sing to them,” Kraus said. “They just don’t want to give up that connection. I think there will always be that connection.”