St. Anthony Parish and Schools celebrate 150 years of Catholic education and formation with special events throughout the 2018-2019 School Year.
(Effingham, IL) 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.