Our school enjoys a rich history. After the establishment of Saint Mary Church in 1865 and seven years of a growing congregation, the need to provide some means of educating the children became apparent. Because no funds for building were available or even obtainable at the time, the sacristy of the church was used as a schoolroom during the day. A Miss Miller was engaged as the first teacher, succeeded shortly afterwards by Adam Gerlach. This was the beginning.
Under the guidance of Father Henry Meissner, (1871-1875) the first school was erected and the Benedictine Sisters were the teachers. The Sisters remained for only a short time because financial reasons closed the school temporarily.
When Father Matthias Zumbuelte became pastor of Saint Mary Church in 1875, Bishop Joseph Dwenger asked the Benedictine Fathers to establish a seminary. However, after thirteen years the seminary had not become a reality. It was during these thirteen years in 1883, the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Agnes began their ministry at Saint Mary School. In 1889, Bishop Dwenger assigned a secular priest to the pastorate, Reverend Phillip Guethoff.
Father Guethoff possessed great foresight into the future needs of his congregation, including the children. Perhaps one of Father Guethoff’s most outstanding virtues was the courageous and persevering fight he had waged for Catholic education. In order to further this cause so dear to his heart and, at the same time, offer our Catholic children the same conveniences of a modern public school, it was necessary to build. In 1916, Father Guethoff received permission from Bishop Herman Alerding to oversee the building of a new three story school.
Father Guethoff remained pastor until his death in 1943. He was succeeded by Father Joseph Hammes who had been serving at Saint Mary’s as an assistant since 1926. Father Hammes led the effort to construct a new convent, school building, and gym in 1959. The “new convent” is now named Saint Agnes Center where the nursery, pre-school, and kindergarten classes take place. The 1959 school building is currently home to the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade classrooms, art storage, and the school’s music, computer, library, and resource classrooms. The gym provides for physical education classes, CYO competitions, and various productions with use of the stage.
Under the leadership of Monsignor Don Grass and Principal Carole Bacon, Father Guethoff’s three story school building was torn down and replaced with a new structure in 1992. This new building presently contains grades 1-5, a main office area, and the Hammes Hall Cafeteria. With a new school building came a new name, Saint Mary Catholic Community School.
The past builds the present which builds the future. As the history of St. Mary School has been unfolded here, it becomes evident the faith-filled vision and boundless determination of so many individuals from the past helped form what our school is today.
The dedication of the Sisters of Saint Agnes who devoted their lives to guiding children in the Catholic faith from 1883-1996 has become a benchmark we only wish we could attain. We are forever grateful for the women who served here as members of this religious community. One of our church buildings is known as the Saint Agnes Center – a modest expression of our gratitude for the dedicated women who served here as Sisters of Saint Agnes. And, we are eternally grateful for the unrelenting efforts of Father Guethoff to enrich and elevate the growing need of quality Catholic education.
Since 1872, Saint Mary Catholic Community School has operated under the authority of the Pastor of Saint Mary Church. Today, the Pastor, Father Pat Kalich governs the school with the shared wisdom of the Saint Mary Pastoral Council and Finance Council.
Day-to-day administration of the school operates under the leadership of our School Principal, Mr. L. Thomas Ruiz, the first male principal in the school’s history. The Saint Mary School Advisory Council is the primary forum for the Pastor and the School Principal to seek the wisdom of parents in matters related to the life of our school.
St. Mary Catholic Community School offers grade levels Pre-Kindergarten through grade eight. St. Mary’s outstanding faculty teaches a rich curriculum infused with cutting-edge technology. The school is a recipient of the state of Indiana’s highest accolades. To learn more about St. Mary’s School visit stmarycp.org/school.
God has showered His blessings on Saint Mary Church and School. We thank Him and pray He will continue to bless us.
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