St. Anthony Parish and Schools celebrate 150 years of Catholic education and formation with special events throughout the 2018-2019 School Year.
EFFINGHAM, IL-(Effingham Radio)- Fr. Chuck Edwards, Pastor of St. Anthony Parish, along with the St. Anthony Administration, Faculty, and Staff invite all alumni, current students, parents, parishioners, and guests to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Catholic education and formation at St. Anthony Schools.
St. Anthony’s rich tradition of Catholic education began in 1869 with the Franciscan Sisters from Joliet. They moved to Effingham and taught for two years in a six-room schoolhouse. In 1874, the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) arrived to lead the education and religious formation for the youth of the parish and remained dedicated to this vocation for the next 133 years. The last full-time SSND to teach at St. Anthony Grade School retired in 2007. Today, both schools are led by lay faculty under the guidance of the parish pastor.
Over the years, the St. Anthony School buildings have seen many changes. The growth of the parish required a move from the original six-room schoolhouse into a two-story, six-room building built in 1893. In 1942, St. Anthony High School received full recognition as a school by state educational authorities. By 1949, combined enrollment for first through twelfth grade had risen to 400. Continued growth required additional classrooms and a new gymnasium to be built and both were completed by 1953. The new gym was the largest in the area at the time with telescoping bleacher seats and a stage with dressing rooms. In 1955, a new wing was added to the building, and, in 1958, construction on six new classrooms expanded the school even more. A separate and dedicated high school building was completed in December of 1966, and by 2003, a new gym and building expansion were added to the high school. A new grade school building was completed in 2009 which allowed for the addition of preschool and kindergarten curriculum.
Today, St. Anthony Grade School enrollment exceeds 470 students. The high school enrollment is at its highest since 1980 with 210 students. St. Anthony Parish is one of the few parishes in the state of Illinois to support both a Catholic grade school and high school.
“It’s a true testimony to the faith of our community to be blessed with the generosity of the parishioners who financially support two catholic schools. The commitment to educating and forming our youth on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church is so inspiring to me and continues to be a main priority of the parish,” remarks Fr. Chuck Edwards.
To honor 150 years of Catholic education, St. Anthony Schools will be holding a variety of events to celebrate.
The 150th Anniversary festivities will kick-off on Sunday, September 9, 2018, beginning with 11:00 a.m. Mass at the church, followed by a meal at the Parish Center. Activities continue at 1:00 p.m. at the grade school with carnival games and fun for everyone.
On Sunday, October 28, 2018, St. Anthony Schools will participate in the Effingham Halloween Parade with a float designed by parishioners and students.
A high school open house will be held on Sunday, November 4, 2018. All guests and alumni are invited to come explore the school.
Homecoming Festivities, including the annual homecoming basketball game, will be held on Friday, December 7, 2018. All parish families, alumni and the community at large are invited to attend.
St. Anthony Grade School will host an open house event on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 for new and prospective families. Tours will be provided by current students and teachers will be available for questions about the Catholic faith formation and academic curriculum offered.
Closing out the 150th year, St. Anthony High School will host AlumNite on Saturday, April 27, 2019. On Sunday, April 28, 2019, there will be a closing Mass celebrated by Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki at 11:00 a.m. followed by tours of St. Anthony Grade School for the entire community. A display of historical photos and artifacts will be available for public viewing in the library during this event as well.
To help with the celebration, St. Anthony Schools are asking for help with compiling historical photos and memorabilia, interesting facts or stories, and updates on former faculty, staff, and alumni. Examples would include old school photos, first communion or confirmation photos, or eight grade promotion pictures. Information can be submitted by visiting stanthony.com and clicking the “Share a Photo” feature, by emailing email@example.com, or by dropping off submissions to the St. Anthony Parish Center at 101 E. Virginia Avenue in Effingham.
St. Anthony of Padua Parish is a Catholic Church founded in 1858, with a congregation of more than 1300 families and nearly 3200 members. One of the founding missions of St. Anthony parish included Catholic Education. Today, St. Anthony is the only preschool through grade 12 Catholic school system in downstate Illinois, and educates an average of more than 550 students annually. More information can be found at www.stanthony.com.