This fall Katie Bishop will again walk the halls of St. Mary School, Swormville, as a fourth-grade teacher. Bishop is also an alumnus of St. Mary's, but so is her mother, grandparents and a great-grandfather. Her family, the Herbergers, put down roots at St. Mary's and the family tree has grown healthy in faith ever since.
Some Catholic Schools have been serving the diocese for over 100 years. In that time families have continued to send generation after generation to these schools, knowing that their children will get a good education based in the Catholic faith.
Bishop attended kindergarten to eighth-grade. While in kindergarten her uncle Dan was attending the school too.
"He was kinda my buddy," Bishop said.
The two attended church together and activities like the Thanksgiving lunch at the school.
Bishop's mother, Donna Allan, currently serves as the liturgy and music director for the parish and directs one of the choirs on Sunday morning.
Allan attended St. Mary's in the 1960s.
"First-grade through eighth-grade was what was available when I was here," Allan said.
Allan grew up down the street from the church and school.
"It was always part of our life," she said.
She met many life-long friends while attending the school. She still communicates with many of them and sees them at church.
"It's nice to think back on those days with good friends."
The oldest living generation, Kathleen and Donald Herberger, are glad that their descendants enrolled their children in the school.
"We were proud to see them carry on this tradition," Donald said, "We just felt good about it."
The Herbergers are the parents of Allan and grandparents to Bishop.
Kathleen felt it was natural that their children would go to St. Mary's.
"It (the school) was here and we just fell into it," Kathleen said. "It was a natural thing to have them come here."
Donald and Kathleen met at St. Mary's. They graduated in 1951 and 1952 respectively and were married in 1957.
At Bishop Timon/St. Jude High School in South Buffalo, the Hillery family carries on the same kind of family tradition.
While not as old as St. Mary's, the Hillery family has graduated three generations from the Franciscan school.
Jim Hillery graduated in 1974 while his father, Jim, was in the second class to graduate from Timon in 1951.
"My father bled green and gold forever," Jim Hillery said.
The Franscian tradition and friendships the family made with the order priests seemed to be the the driving force that led the family to attend Timon.
"The Fransicans were always over at my grandmother's house," he said.
The camaraderie is what Hillery most remembers about attending Timon. He and his friends would hang out at Cazenovia Park, play football or hockey together.
"My friends for life are all out of this school."
If he was not playing an organized sport, he was playing intermurals.
"The school kept us busy. Kept me out of trouble," Hillery said.
He dismisses the reputation Timon gets as a school of jocks.
"We're all good looking and smart too," Hillery said.
Hillery had his three sons and two nephews graduate from Timon. As for any future generations, "Not for another 15 years," he said.
That family connection to a school is what Bishop feels is best about Catholic schools. She plans to carry on that tradition with her son Matthew becomes the fifth generation to attend St. Mary's.
"I couldn't imagine having him anywhere else," she said.