Reach Publisher and Editor Gregory Enns at
772.940.9005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For generations of schoolchildren attending
the Treasure Coast’s oldest religious school,
one person besides the Almighty was central
to the development of their faith.
His name was Monsignor Michael Beerhalter, who
for nearly 50 years pastored St. Anastasia Catholic
Church and oversaw its school.
Though he served a parish in Fort Pierce with big
families with little bank accounts, his financial acumen
seemed to make up for the shortfall of his congregants.
Beerhalter was not your average parish
priest. Besides holding the title of monsignor — an
honor bestowed by the pope at the recommendation
of the local bishop — our pastor wore different clerical
garb. And, most noticeably, he had different
transportation. Instead of driving a non-descript car,
he tooled around in a Mercedes-Benz, perhaps a tribute
to his German heritage as much as the fact that the local Mercedes dealer was a parishioner.
He was ubiquitous in the lives of his families, dispensing sacraments from cradle baptism
through childhood communion and reconciliation to adulthood marriage and, finally, to
grave last rites.
Beerhalter grew up in Germany and he seemed to have a special affinity for families who, like
him, had immigrated into the United States. His English was flawless but delivered through a
heavy German accent. We used to giggle in the pews each Mothers’ Day when he’d begin his
homily: “It’s Mudders’ Day and we’d like to wish all the Mudders a Happy Mudders' Day.”
Another ritual of the Beerhalter years was devoting a Sunday each year to a State of the
Parish sermon in which he’d recite the history of St. Anastasia Parish. As the church celebrates
its 100th year, we’re happy to pass those on in our story beginning on Page 40.
Perhaps Beerhalter’s biggest contribution was to the education of the children attending the
parish school. He pretty much gave the Dominican nuns at St. Anastasia School the leeway to
run it and helped facilitate the construction of a convent for them. Nevertheless, he commanded
a looming presence four times a year — when report cards were distributed. He, of course, was
For this quarterly ritual, Beerhalter visited each of the classes at the school, starting from the
youngest grades all the way up to eighth. As he entered the room, students stood in unison to
greet him. Then he’d sit down at the teacher’s desk, slip on his reading glasses and get down to
the business at hand.
In alphabetical order, he’d call out the students' names, and one by one students would stand
before him to receive their grades – in public. These sessions seemed more to encourage than to
humiliate. He was forgiving of occasional academic shortcomings but would not abide poor
grades in conduct. And looking out into classes crammed with 30 or 35 pupils, it was easy to
When he finished giving out the report cards, a student in the class appointed by the teacher
beforehand would raise her hand and ask, “Monsignor, before you leave may we receive your
blessing?” Monsignor would oblige, say a prayer, make the sign of the cross over us and go off
to the next class where the ritual would be repeated. By the end of his appointed rounds, he
would have delivered — and reviewed — the grades of several hundred kids.
I’m not sure child psychologists today would endorse Monsignor’s public grading system,
but the tradeoff was that you had somebody at the top who cared about every student’s success
and to whom the student would be accountable at the next grading period. It’s in that spirit of
educational improvement — and accountability — that we bring you our third annual Treasure
Coast Education section in this issue.
A TREASURE TO READ
Publisher & Editor
Gloria Taylor Weinberg,
Camille S. Yates,
Susan Burgess, Willi Miller,
Greg Gardner, Jerry Shaw,
Catherine Enns Grigas,
Rob Downey, Ed Drondoski,
Greg Gardner, Bob Dobens,
Robert P. Dudley
Michelle L. Burney
Jay Goley, Julie Blomquist,
Geoffrey Smith’s Sailfish
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Monsignor Michael Beerhalter, seen here
delivering a diploma to a graduate, routinely
delivered report cards to every student
attending St. Anastasia School during his
nearly 50 years as pastor of St. Anastasia