Gazette Article by: Pamela Riddle Marzec
Appeared in the Gazette: Summer 1999
On September 20, 1939, the doors to Saints Faith, Hope and Charity School opened for the first time. Monsigneur Thomas J. Burke and nine Dominican Sisters from Sinsinawa, Wisconsin welcomed the 98 new students.
From the beginning, traditional approaches to education gave way to newer methods: a foundation in speech, dramatics, music and art emphasized student expression. Alongside regular classroom instruction in the Bible, ethics, and theology, students participated in the liturgy and sacraments, in service projects and in the daily challenge to live according to Christian values.
During the 1940s the Sisters and students were very involved in the war effort. The Sisters rolled bandages in the evenings and students sold war bonds and stamps. In response to their efforts, and much to the surprise of students and staff, an army jeep drove onto the school property one day so that the children could see how the money they raised was spent. Fort Sheridan officials were very thankful for their new vehicle.
By the end of the 1950s school enrollment totaled 476. Membership in Saints Faith, Hope and Charity Church was likewise healthy. The Alles sisters of Winnetka had offered land to the church in 1936, with the stipulation they would have a home on the property for as long as they lived. One sister died in 1946 and the second in 1959. In 1960 the Alles home was razed to begin construction of the new church. For almost four decades, students have attended mass there on a weekly basis during the school day.
The 1960s also brought a change to the Sisters’ habits. In line with many of the changes that occurred in the church after the Second Vatican Council, a soft veil and modified habit were adopted until a few years later when many of the Sisters chose to wear contemporary garb in the classroom.
When Monsignor Burke retired in May, 1971, he was followed by Msgr. Eugene F. Lyons. Two efficient and experienced administrators were in charge of the school during this decade: Sr. Helen Martin, 1969-1976, and Sr. Anne Marie Friedrich, 1976-1980. Fr. Thomas Ventura was named pastor in January, 1988, and the parish today remains under his leadership.
The 1980s were a time of new challenges in the Church and the school. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life were on the wane, causing more responsibility to rest on the shoulders of the laity. The Sisters comprised one-fourth of the school faculty until the late 1980s when the percentage dropped to one-tenth. In September 1980, Walter Marzec took the helm as Principal.
In the 1990s, the school maintains a healthy enrollment of over 400 students and continues to provide a Christian environment integrating academics and values from the junior kindergarten level through eighth grade. The school strives to educate the whole person and is committed to the spiritual, academic, moral, physical and social growth of each student.