Students who will attend the new Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in Cranberry will benefit from both an up-to-date facility and long-standing church traditions, Bishop David A. Zubik said.
He made the remarks Saturday as he presided at a blessing and groundbreaking ceremony for the new school.
The event drew about three dozen project organizers, supporters and friends.
The goals of Roman Catholic education are "to help children become adult women and men who know English literature and the Lord Jesus Christ," Bishop Zubik said.
The new structure will replace the 73-year-old North Catholic building on Pittsburgh's North Side.
When the new school opens for the 2014-15 year, it will have the capacity to serve 1,000 students in grades 9 through 12 -- four times the current capacity.
The project has been on the drawing board for about eight years.
"When we look to the interests of our neighbors and to serve them, we are God's co-workers," Bishop Zubik said.
The school is named for Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Bishop Zubik's predecessor as head of the Pittsburgh Diocese.
Cardinal Wuerl now is archbishop of Washington, D.C.
The $71 million project will be built on a hilltop site east of Franklin Road, between Route 228 and Mars Crider Road.
Site preparation will begin almost immediately with final architectural plans for the building itself to be submitted to Cranberry planners sometime this month.
"We want to be where the people are to serve them," Bishop Zubik said in answer to a question about why the school is moving north into Butler County.
Many North Hills communities, and especially Cranberry, have seen large population increases for several decades.
About half of the 250 students who attend North Catholic in Pittsburgh's Troy Hill neighborhood commute from the Cranberry area.
Among those taking part in the 30-minute ceremony was Lillia Smyers, 14, of Ross, who is completing eighth grade at St. Sebastian School.
She plans to enroll in North Catholic for 2012-13 and expects to be among the first students to graduate from the new facility.
"It will be a great experience to be part of a new school and meet so many new people," she said after the ceremony.
While the building will be in a different location, it will bring to Cranberry decades of traditions and Catholic values taught by the Marianist priests and brothers who have staffed it, school president Frank Orga said after the ceremony.
Prayers, a Bible reading from the St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians and the blessing of the site with holy water all were parts of the program.
The new school will have a technology-driven curriculum that will be introduced in the new year at North Catholic, said James Stalder, chairman of the high school's board. One element of that curriculum will be to encourage students to seek internships with businesses in the Cranberry area.
"What is begun here today is begun by the power of God's spirit," Bishop Zubik said. "When the school is completed, students will leave as adults, ready to honor and serve God and work in the service of others."
Len Barcousky: email@example.com or 412-263-1159.