Charlotte A. Pitrella, liturgy coordinator at St. Michael Parish in Newark and former principal of Newark’s St. Michael School, died July 24, 2006, after a short illness. She was 75.
A lifelong Newark resident, Miss Pitrella graduated from Newark High School and the State University College at Brockport. Nine years later, she decided to become a teacher and enrolled at Pittsford’s Nazareth College in the late 1960s, when the changes resulting from the Second Vatican Council were first being implemented.
“She had always felt that there was something she needed to do more,” said Jeanette Housecamp, faith-formation coordinator at St. Michael Parish. “She felt that (Vatican II) was such a freeing experience for her that she wanted to be a part of it.”
After graduating from Nazareth, Miss Pitrella began teaching at St. Michael School, where she taught fourth grade and junior-high language arts until 1980, when she became the school’s first lay principal. During her tenure at the school, she touched the lives of hundreds of students and parents, Housecamp said.
Miss Pitrella also was well-loved by her faculty and staff, noted Jeanette Hernandez, who taught at the school for several years under her leadership.
“She showed fairness and compassion with her faculty, staff, students and parents,” said Hernandez, who currently teaches at St. Francis-St. Stephen School in Geneva. “She was businesslike in her demeanor at school, but occasionally melted into one of those ‘Charlotte-smiles’ that was typical of her.”
After Miss Pitrella’s 1993 retirement from the school, she became liturgy coordinator for St. Michael Parish, where she served until she became ill. Her love of the people in her community, as well as her devotion to liturgy and the church, motivated her to remain active in her parish community, Housecamp said.
“In a lot of ways she was St. Michael’s. It was her life, and she loved it. We were very fortunate to have her as long as we did,” she said.
“I pass by St. Michael’s now, knowing that for years the building was synonymous with two words: Miss Pitrella. It still is,” Hernandez said.
Her loving and generous spirit extended to her family and friends as well, noted Carole Idding, Miss Pitrella’s cousin.
“There wasn’t anyone that she didn’t love, or who didn’t love her. She just gave so much to everyone. Her love was infectious,” Idding said.
Besides Idding, Miss Pitrella is survived by many cousins, aunts, uncles, godchildren, friends and former St. Michael students and staff.
Father Peter Clifford presided at Miss Pitrella’s funeral Mass, which was held July 27 at St. Michael Church. Interment was in Newark Cemetery. Memorial contributions in Miss Pitrella’s name may be made to St. Michael School, 320 S. Main St., Newark, NY 14513.