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The Early Years of the School

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1925-1930

 
It was always the desire of the parish to have a Parochial School. At a meeting in the spring of 1925 the congregation gave their unanimous consent to the building of the school and cheerfully voted to expend the sum of $42,000 for the project having only raised $20,000. Although with the construction of the new school, the parish assumed a debt of $22,000, this burden, rested on willing shoulders. The building, which would consist of six classrooms (two of which were used as the sister’s convent), a gymnasium and auditorium, was designed by John O. Bach and built by contractors Jenson and Campbell.

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Arrival of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

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Fall 1925


Father Kubelbeck was fortunate in securing the services of three Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration from LaCrosse to teach in the new school. These Sisters were a tremendous influence on the children of the parish, as well as their parents. Each was given a stipend of $225. The sisters lived in the School Bilding on its upper floors where two classrooms were converted into living quarters.

Although the Sisters graciously took on other responsibilities in the parish, e.g. taking care of the church’s altar, vestments, linens, etc. which the ladies of the parish had done previously, they were very careful not to extend themselves unnecessarily so as to distract themselves from their mission.
 
Foundress of the Sisters Religious Order

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration were founded by Mother Aemiliana Dirr in 1849. However, when she and some other sisters lost their focus, diverting their attention from education to household duties at the newly built diocesan seminary in Milwaukee in 1856, they became overwhelmed with physical labor, and found themselves unable to develop a truly religious life.

Mother Aemiliana and five others left the community they founded living out the rest of their lives as lay women.
 

Keeping the Proper Balance

Over the years, however, when other responsibilities were placed on them, we can be thankful that although the Sisters may have struggled with distractions and how to keep a proper balance of the tasks at hand, they persevered in keeping their focus on prayer and their mission of educating the children of the parish.

 

Click to enlarge.

Moreover, the School Sisters passed on the value of keeping a proper balance to the children. For example, in the 1950′s Sr. Coronata who after reading and explaining poems to her students had them memorize different lines from the poems. Many parishioners today can still recite lines from In Flander’s Fields and The Village Blacksmith.

The latter by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, focuses on a blacksmith and his daily life. The blacksmith serves as a role model who balances his job with the roles he plays with his family and community. Just as the character in the poem is presented as an iconic tradesman who is embedded in the history of the town, the Franciscan Sisters who taught at the parish school would sink their roots deep into the parish.

Even today, one young woman of the order, Sister Sarah Hennessey, FSPA (see photo below), recognized how important it is to keep a proper balance before making her perpetual vows. As part of her spiritual discernment, she wrote a letter to Mother Aemiliana who died in 1901:

“Will I be enough? I am afraid my fragility will overtake my gifts. I fear even that my gift of self will not be whole enough. I am sure you may remember that feeling as you first stepped on this soil or when you left in faith. And yet, God stayed with you. And in a funny way, you stayed with us too. Because you let the vision lead you, and walked past walls of fear.” Read More

Sarah Hennessey took her final vows on Sept. 24, 2011.

FSPA who Taught at St. Anthony (1925-1930)

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Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

Sr. Fernanda Becker

Sr. Fernanda Becker

1925-1926
Fernanda Becker, Sibylla Kreibich, and Lucina Geriemann

1926-1927
Fernanda Becker, Josetta Becker, Sibylla Kreibich,
Hugolina Weibel, and Lucina Geriemann

1927-1928
Fernanda Becker, Adelphia Wurzer, Leola Schumacher, Hugolina Weibel, Lucina Geriemann, and Denise McMahon

1928-1929
Fernanda Becker, Adelphia Wurzer, Leola Schumacher,
Lucina Geriemann, Denise McMahon, and Henrita Wolfe

1929-1930
Fernanda Becker, Adelphia Wurzer, Leola Schumacher,
Sylvestra Hanses, Lucina Geriemann, and Henrita Wolfe

View all years and names of FSPA Teachers
who taught at St. Anthony (1925-1969)

The Mission of the School and its Teaching Sisters

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Fall 1925


The Franciscan Sisters indeed had not only the vision, but the stamina, to fulfill the mission to which God had called them. Long before the writing of “mission statements” were popularized, Fr. Kubelbeck stated, “Ever mindful of [the Church’s] divine commission ‘Go teach all nations,’ she gathers her children around her, feeling that the “one thing necessary” is religion, not exclusive of others such as learning, ability and skill, [but as] the supreme coordination principle in education as it is in life.”

The pastor who was very pleased that his school “was modern in every way” also realized that the inspiration the children would draw from it for many generations would not be found in the building but in their teachers–religious women who dedicated their lives in the fostering of “a true Christian spirit that never grows old in the hearts of the faithful; a spirit which since the dawn of Christianity has inspired the Church.”

The Grand Opening of the School

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Fall 1925


A group of school girls from St. Anthony in 1925.

The school opened on September 14, 1925 with 98 students enrolled in grades three to six. The following year, when the other four grades were added, the school’s enrollment increased to 152.

The new school was dedicated October 25, 1925 by Bishop Joseph G. Pinten (1922-1926), with the clergy of the city also present for the occasion. Father Francis Bertram delivered the dedication sermon.

Indeed, the day provided a great sense of satisfaction for the parishioners of Ss. Anthony and Margaret Parish. In just a little over a decade following the foundation of the parish, they were able to look back at their humble beginnings while observing the fruits of their patience, hard work and perseverance. The church, the rectory, and the school were all made possible by their generosity and willing cooperation.

School Enrollment over the years:

1926 – 98 students
1927 – 150 students taught by 4 sisters ($1,250); $125 utilities; $9.16/student
1928 – 181 students
1929 – 184 students

1930 – 208 students
1931 – 181 students
1932 – 156 students
1933 – 173 students
1934 – 161 students
1935 – 144 students
1936 – 130 students
1937 – 119 students taught by 4 sisters ($1,375); $130 utilities; $12.74/student
1938 – 118 students
1939 – 119 students

1940 – 132 students
1941 – 122 students
1942 – 121 students
1943 – 130 students
1944 – 147 students
1945 – 150 students
1946 – 139 students
1947 – 147 students taught by 4 sisters ($1,685); $137 utilities; $12.39/student
1948 – 157 students
1949 – 149 students

1950 – 150 students
1951 – 151 students
1952 – 145 students
1953 – 138 students
1954 – 144 students
1955 – 144 students
1956 – 141 students
1957 – 137 students taught by 4 sisters ($2,000); $237 utilities; $16.32/student
1958 – 142 students
1959 – 141 students

1960 – 138 students
1961 – 142 students
1962 – 136 students
1963 – 150 students
1964 – 147 students
1965 – 133 students
1966 – 151 students
1967 – 146 students taught by 3 sisters; 1 lay ($7,000); $720 utilities; $52.88/student
1968 – 120 students taught by 3 sisters; 1 lay ($8,500); $700 utilities; $96.84/student
1969 – 95 students

Christmas at the School

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In the homes of Belgium parishioners, the traditions of the Old Country were very much alive. At school, one of the highlights the children had to look forward to was December 6, the feast of Saint Nicholas (in Flemish: Sint Niklaas or Sinterklaas). On that day this holy man comes down the chimney and leaves presents, sweets, chocolate and marzipan figures for the children. This feast of Sinterklaas is the most important of Belgium traditions. In fact this is one of the Belgium traditions that have been exported to many other countries the world over. Santa Claus comes from this old Belgian feast. When you look at the two old men, they look exactly the same, apart from their clothes.

1925–1926


Each of the four classrooms in the new school had two grades and one sister. Like most Catholic schools of the time, discipline was strict, but there were opportunities for fun, as well. One of the memorable events where everyone enjoyed themselves was the annual Christmas party.
 
The First Christmas

The first Christmas at the school was celebrated in the respective rooms. The children received candy and popcorn balls from Fr. Kubelbeck, and pictures and medals from the Sisters. The children presented a Vivetta and cigars to their pastor and a large box of stationary and candy to the Sisters. Sister Sibylla’s room entertained other rooms with a little Christmas program. The Christmas hymns had been practiced by the children to be sung for the first time on Christmas morning.
 
The Second Christmas

All the children were taken to the gymnasium where they were surprised to see in the center a beautiful decorated tree. Bags of candy were spread out on a table on which the tree stood. Some distance from the center tree, four tables were placed in as may directions holding gifts that were to be exchanged among the children. Father Kubelbeck then distributed the gifts.

The First Bazaar in St. Anthony School Hall

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Fall 1925


Annual bazaars have been held in the parish from the beginning. In 1925, the bazaar was held for the first time in St. Anthony School Hall. The active workers cleared the sum of $2,000.

Card parties given by the men and ladies of the parish gave evidence of the co-operative spirit that existed among the parishioners.