The year 2001 was the 100th year anniversary of Holy Redeemer School and also the 175 anniversary of the establishment of the archdiocese of St. Louis in 1826. The Holy Redeemer School Alumni Association is sponsoring a weekly feature in the church bulletin called “Did You Know” to share a bit of Holy Redeemer’s and our Archdiocese’ rich past with excerpts from the books, “Archdiocese of St. Louis, Three Centuries of Catholicism” and “Holy Redeemer School, 100 Year Centennial.”
In celebration of our school’s history the Holy Redeemer Alumni Association is offering a 100 Year Anniversary book for just $10/each, plus $2.50 for mailing. The 55 page book is rich in photos and facts from Holy Redeemer School’s past 100 years from 1901-2001. To order send your $12.50 check made out to the Holy Redeemer Alumni Association and mail to Elizabeth Fox at: 1120 S. Rock Hill Road, Webster Groves, MO 63119.
Birth of Catholic Education
Catholic education in St. Louis began with four giants who came to St. Louis from 1818 to 1823: Louis W.V. Dubourg, Joseph Rosati, the first Bishop of St. Louis, Mother Phillipine Duschesne, who opened the educational apostolate of the Religious of the Sacred heart in America and Peter Verhaegen who won a university charge for Saint Louis University and founded the first medical school under Catholic auspices in the New World.
Beginnings of the Parish
Holy Redeemer was formed in 1886 when 45 families of the Webster Groves area petitioned Archbishop P.R. Kenrick to organize a new parish in their locality. Approval was given and a lot purchased for the proposed church and rectory on the southwest corner of Lockwood and Selma Avenues. Reverand Corelius O’Leary, a controversial and outspoken social reformer who had been pastor in DeSoto, MO was appointed the first pastor. In 1897 a new stone church, located at the corner of Lockwood and Joy Avenues, was completed and dedicated.
Beginnings of the School
In September 1898, Loretto Academy opened a school for young ladies and for girls in elementary grades. A parish school for boys, taught by the Sisters of Loretto opened in the old church. Enrollment, 25 pupils. In the autumn of 1901 a new school room was erected at the rear of the former church. By 1904 the enrollment was 40 pupils with two rooms operating. In 1907 there were eight grades and the enrollment had climbed to 66 pupils. In 1909 the sisters of Loretto withdrew and the Dominican Sisters of Sparkhill, NY took over and brought the school from its humble beginnings to its present position.
A New School Building
In 1909 a contract for building the new school was awarded to the Wright-Gallagher Construction Company, to cost about $40,000. On September 6, 1910 the new school opened with Archbishop Glennon, the Mayor of Webster Groves assisting at the opening. At the October Parish Mission the statue of Our Holy Redeemer was erected on the front of the school, purchased with money raised from raffles, plays and bazaars put on by the students. Only four classrooms were needed, so the Sister occupied the unused rooms on one side of the first floor. By 1916 enrollment was up to 150 pupils.