Central/Assumption History

A collection of letters and articles on the formation and development of Central and Assumption

The following letter from Bishop Henry Althoff was read

in all the Catholic churches of East St. Louis on June 9, 1929:

To the Rev. Clergy and the Faithful of the City of East St. Louis:

It affords me great pleasure to inform you that all preparations have now been made for the opening of the Catholic High School in September of the present year. A building on St. Clair and Wabasha avenues has been leased for three years to serve as temporary quarters for the High School and Brothers' residence.

The High School will be in the charge of the Brothers of Mary of the St. Louis Province. These Brothers conduct the McBride High School and Chaminade College. They will open the school this year with a Freshmen class only, adding the higher classes year after year as the conditions demand.

The Brothers of Mary have willingly accepted our invitation to conduct the school, and they are confident that it will be a success. They have also expressed themselves well satisfied with the temporary building which is being arranged to meet all requirements.

And now that in the establishment of the High School the hopes of years are realized, I am asking that the school be given the support it deserves. And indeed, knowing as I do the devotion of our Catholic people of East St. Louis to their Church and how profoundly they prize the inestimable benefits of Catholic education, I have every assurance that this enterprise will have their most willing and active support in every way.

Accordingly, it seems to be quite evident that every Catholic boy seeking a higher education, will attend the East St. Louis Catholic High School.

Moreover, it is well known to our people that the High School can be established and maintained only by their generous financial support. This evidently means that every Catholic parishioner, that is, not only the head of the family but every wage earner, must consider it his sacred duty to contribute toward the High School as generously as his means allow.

It is, therefore, in view of the fact that heavy expenses had to be incurred in establishing the temporary High School, that I am appealing to the people through the Rev. pastors to give this matter of financial aid for the High School their immediate attention. It was unanimously decided at the recent meeting of the High School Board, at which the Rev. pastors were present, to request the people to meet without delay their obligations by paying the amount subscribed during the High School Campaign and to urge all who have not subscribed to do so. The Rev. pastors will explain more in detail the expenses incurred up to this time and which must still be made to furnish the school and Brothers' residence, to pay the monthly rent and meet other obligations.

It is impossible at the present time to offer a free High School to the Catholic boys of East St. Louis. A nominal monthly tuition will be charged. It is my hope that this school will be a free Catholic High School in the future.

I wish to use this opportunity to express my sincerest thanks to the Rev. pastors and to our Catholic people for the support they have given the Catholic High School movement. I am particularly prompted to state that the High School Board, whose meetings I have always attended, merits appreciation and gratitude for their faithful and self-sacrificing work in this High School enterprise.

Since all success depends on the divine benediction, I ask our faithful people frequently to remember the High School in their prayers. And I also appeal to the teachers of the parochial schools of the city to pray with their pupils for the success of the new High School.

September 6th, 1929


It was an auspicious beginning when on Wednesday morning, September 4, the first scholastic year of the Central Catholic High School for the boys of East St. Louis was solemnly opened at Sacred Heart Church, Eighth and Baugh avenue, with a solemn High Mass in honor of the Holy Ghost. The Right Rev. Henry Althoff, D. D., Bishop of Belleville. who has closely identified himself with the Catholic High School movement in East St. Louis from the very beginning, assisted at the solemn High Mass and was attended by the Rev. Fathers J. Downey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church, East St. Louis, and W. Trombley, pastor of Holy Angels' Church.

The Right Rev. Bishop was conducted to the church in procession by the priests who were in attendance, namely, Right Rev. Msgr. C. Gilmartin, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish and Rev. H. Mannion, his assistant; the Bishop's two chaplains, who have been previously mentioned; Rev. Albert Kaiser, C. PP. S., Cleveland; Rev. S. Czerniejewski, pastor of St. Adalbert's Church, East St. Louis; Rev. R. Hynes, St. Mary's Church and Rev. John Fallon, Diocesan Superintendent of Schools.

A solemn High Mass in honor of the Holy Ghost opened the morning ceremony. Rev. P. Engel, pastor of St. Elizabeth's Church and treasurer of the East St. Louis Catholic High School Board, was celebrant. He was assisted by Fathers A. Zuroweste of St. Joseph's and C. Havey of St. Patrick's. rev. M. J. Gruenewald, Bishop's secretary, of Belleville, acted as master of ceremonies.

After the High Mass was over, His Lordship spoke to the assembled congregation made up of a very creditable number of the laity, the entire body of boys enrolled in the East St. Louis Catholic High School, the three Brothers of Mary in charge, and the children of Sacred Heart School.

Right Rev. Msgr. C. Gilmartin, the president of the East St. Louis Catholic High School Board, officiated at solemn Benediction with the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Right Rev. Monsignor was assisted by the deacon and subdeacon of the Mass. A very picturesque procession took place after the church ceremony was over, when the Right Rev. Bishop and the attending clergy marched through the long line of students who are enrolled in this year's class of the Catholic High School. There were seventy-five young men who are beginning their first year of work, present for this occasion.

Msgr. Gilmartin officiated at the blessing of the chapel and the new school building of the East St. Louis Catholic High School, which is located on St. Clair and Wabasha avenues. After the blessing was over and certain announcements had been made to the assembled students, the classes were dismissed for the day.

May 29, 1931



Construction work on the $75,000 addition to the present St. Patrick's school building, Seventh Street and Illinois Avenue, which is to be converted into the Central Catholic high school for boys next September, will start immediately upon the closing of school in June, Rev. Father John Fallon, diocesan superintendent of parochial schools, has announced.

The addition is to be constructed so as to harmonize with the present structure of red brick with white brick trimmings. Modern methods of building will enable the erection of a three-story addition to conform exactly with the old section, which is comprised only of two floors and the basement.

When completed, the main entrance will be on the Illinois Avenue side. For a time the view of parts of the building from Illinois Avenue will be obstructed by the present rectory and convent, but eventually the rectory is to be moved over to the corner of Sixth Street and Illinois Avenue, while the convent, one of the landmarks of the city, will be wrecked.

The most modern of school equipment will be contained in the three floors and basement of the addition, which is to be fireproof throughout, while the old part of the building will be semi-fireproof, made so by a thorough renovation.

There will be ten classrooms on the first floor of the building, which, when completed, will accomodate 350 students. There are 148 students in the school, which at present is located at St. Clair and Wabasha Avenues. The school was started two years ago with only a freshman class. Last September a sophomore class was added and next September the junior class will make its appearance. In September, 1932, a full high school course will be taught. The school is in charge of the Brothers of Mary, a religious order which conducts McBride High School in St. Louis and Chaminade College in Clayton, Mo.

A library, type-writing rooms and other rooms for the business course department will be found on the second floor of the addition, while modern physics and chemical laboratories, together with a lecture room, will be on the third floor.

In the old section of the building the second floor will be utilized as a combination gymnasium and auditorium.

Spacious corridors will run through the building. Terraza flooring will be laid throughout, even in the present structure.

The student body of the Central Catholic High School will be transferred to the new building in September.

September 11, 1931


Rev. James J. Downey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church, Illinois Avenue and Columbia Place, East St. Louis, delivered the sermon at the Solemn High Mass in his church Tuesday morning, with which the new East St. Louis Central Catholic High School opened. He advised the 249 students who filled the nave of the church to take advantage of the opportunity provided them for an education and reminded them that they were not being sent to high school to shorten the lives of their parents.

Father Downey urged the boys to learn to pray, to be respectful and to uphold the dignity of their school at all times.

Brother John Schuh of the Brothers of Mary heads the school. The students and the brothers marched from St. Joseph's Church to the new school, 411 North Seventh, formerly Old St. Patrick's Church. Formal studies will begin this morning at 9.

March 23, 1951

Low Bidders Announced On New Central Catholic High School

The successful low bidders on the proposed new Central Catholic High School for Boys have been announced today by His Excellency the Most Rev. Albert R. Zuroweste, Bishop of Belleville.

The low bid for the General Contract was submitted by William H. & Nelson Cunliff Company of St. Louis. The Thomas McEvilly Plumbing-Heating Co., East St. Louis, was the successful bidder on the heating and plumbing contracts, and the lowest bid on the electrical work was presented by the Weckermeyer Electric Company of East St. Louis. The contracts are now being prepared and will be signed next week. It is hoped to have the building ready for occupancy in September, 1952.

In connection with the awarding of the contracts, His Excellency has released the following statement to the Catholics of East St. Louis and surrounding communities:

"When I became Bishop of the Diocese of Belleville I was confronted with two pressing problems: The building of a new fireproof orphanage and the erection of a new Central Catholic High School for Boys in East St. Louis.

"The Orphanage program is now well under way. The response to our appeal has been most generous. For this we are deeply grateful. The contracts for the new Central Catholic High School will be awarded next week. This building program will include in addition to the school proper, a Brothers' faculty residence with accomodations for 22 Brothers, an auditorium-gymnasium and an Industrial Arts Department.

"This new High School will make a most valuable addition to the educational facilities of East St. Louis and surrounding communities. Here the work of giving a solid Christian education to our citizens of tomorrow will be accomplished. Every year young men will go forth from this educational institution well-trained to fulfill their obligations to God, to their country and to their fellowmen.

"In order to see this building program completed, the Catholics of East St. Louis and surrounding communities will be asked to make tremendous sacrifices. We have every confidence that you will not be found wanting. Under the loyal leadership of the clergy you will be generous in your support of this worthy cause. It is only in this way that this undertaking can be successfully accomplished. I ask your help. A prompt and generous gift will be most gratefully received.

"While we realize that building costs are high at present, the absolute need of the new building prompts us to do the work now. At the same time we believe that this undertaking is evidence of our confidence in our country when people are so confused in their thinking. Furthermore, since certain types of building are restricted during this national emergency, this construction work will give employment to many of our people. Labor will benefit by it and we are confident of their fullest cooperation.

"We go forward in this work with confidence in God, trust in His Blessed Mother and the knowledge that the faithful of East St. Louis have never failed."

December 5, 1952


The new Assumption High School at Kingshighway and St. Clair Avenue will be formally dedicated on Sunday, May 17, His Excellency Most Rev. Albert R. Zuroweste, D. D., Bishop of Belleville announced this week

The afternoon exercise will be followed by "open house" and a festival which will also be held Monday afternoon and evening.

No date can be determined when the school will be transferred from the present Central Catholic High quarters to the new building, Rev. Arthur Glodammer, superintendent, states.

Completion of a water main and also the sewerage system are two big items on the unfinished schedule. Since there will be no heat in the building until the water line is completed, finishing of the exterior is at present practically at a standstill.

Students, faculty and friends of the boys' high school are anxiously awaiting the completion of the project which will give this area one of the finest high schools in the state. The new Assumption school will be able to greatly expand its curriculum and welcome many more students in the enlarged and modern quarters.

The building project is the largest ever undertaken in the Diocese of Belleville.

March 20, 1953


Four hundred students of Assumption High School will be ready for the first day of classes in the new building on Monday, March 23. Plans for closing Central Catholic High at Seventh and State streets and occupying the new school at St. Clair Avenue and Kingshighway call for a mass transfer tomorrow of equipment, both of the school and of the Brothers of Mary residence.

A full day of school is scheduled for today, this afternoon seniors will begin moving some equipment.

A large scale operation, which will depend upon the cooperation of friends of the school, is set for Saturday. Students also will report, one group to work at Central, the other to unload trucks at Assumption High.

It is expected all will be in readiness for a full day of classes on Monday, March 23.

His Excellency Most Rev. Albert R. Zuroweste, D. D., former superintendent of Central Catholic under whose direction the new Assumption High School was planned and built, will offer the first Mass in the new school on Wednesday, March 25. Members of the school organizations, faculty, students, clergy and other friends are invited. The Mass will be celebrated in the new auditorium at 9:30 o'clock.

The formal dedication ceremonies will not be held until May 17. This date also will inaugurate a two-day festival on the school grounds.

May 23, 1953


Last Sunday was a day of real joy and happiness for the faithful of the East. St. Louis deanery, for on this day a dream of many years reached reality. The dream come true was the dedication of the new, modern Assumption High School. A dream come true, indeed; an institution prompted by the desire of many years and also by an absolute necessity. The new school is an institution of which the faithful of the East St. Louis Deanery may justly be proud; it is one of the best high schools in the state. Furthermore, The faithful can be proud of this school because its realization has been made possible by their united efforts and zealous work.

During the dedication ceremonies last Sunday afternoon His Excellency, Most Reverend Albert R. Zuroweste, D. D., Bishop of Belleville, paid tribute to the clergy and faithful whose sacrifices made this new school possible. The Bishop declared that it was and still is a titantic task for the Catholics of the East St. Louis Deanery. "Assumption High School is a monument of faith" the Bishop continued, "and every part of it proclaims the importance of religion for an adequate understanding of man and therefore of the process by which he should be trained."

Bishop Zuroweste also paid tribute to the Catholic people in general who have made astounding sacrifices in America for the cause of Christian Education. "No where else, among enlightened nations," His Excellency declared, "are Catholics called upon to bear the entire financial burden of a system of education, which faith and experience alike prove to be the only adequate training for a sane and fruitful life."

The Bishop pointed out that from kindergarten to the university, Catholic people support at tremendous cost this Catholic system of training. And at the same time, the Bishop pointed out, Catholics are taxed heavily to sustain secular schools from which they are excluded by reason of the grave moral and religious inadequancy of these secular institutions.

In their support of the Catholic schools, continued the Bishop, Catholics are combating the anti-God philosophy of Communism, are exercising their God-given rights, and fulfilling a religious duty demanded by conscience. Here the Bishop emphasized that by doing the above Catholics are not separating their children from the spirit of the nation, but rather are making their children more valuable to the nation. A true Catholic is always a good citizen, His Excellency said. Bishop Zuroweste also pointed out that Catholics are not opposed to public schools. "We will always have a great interest in them," he said. Furthermore, he declared that Catholics recognize and appreciate the work and the sacrifices of thousands of public school teachers who labor at times under difficult and adverse conditions.

Though Catholics are not opposed to public schools, Catholics do believe that religious and moral training is essential in the formation of character. "Since this cannot be given in the public schools because of the diversity of religious beliefs," His Excellency continued, "we build our own schools at tremendous sacrifices while joining wherever possible with our non-Catholic friends and neighbors in a released time program of religious instructions outside the school buildings.

Speaking specifically about the new high school, Bishop Zuroweste declared that we want to send forth from this new Assumption High School boys graced by God with courage and the dauntless spirit of real Americanism, boys whose faith in their country is excelled only by faith in their God. In conclusion Bishop Zuroweste thanked all for their interest and loyalty to Assumption High.

Though it was a terrifically hot day and the dedication had been postponed for one week a large crowd of the clergy and faithful attended the dedication ceremony last Sunday afternoon. Furthermore, it was estimated that some 10,000 persons on Sunday, and a larger crowd on Monday, took part in the festival and open house at the new school.

For the formal blessing of the new school Bishop Zuroweste was assisted by Rev. Arthur Goldammer, superintendent of Assumption High School; Very Rev. William Trombley, Dean; Rev. Laurence O'Connell, Superintendent of Schools of the Belleville Diocese; Rev. Bernard Pender, pastor of St. Patrick parish; and Rev. Thomas Driscoll, pastor of St. Joseph parish. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Charles Gilmartin, V.G., P.A., was present for the ceremonies.

September 5, 1958


Assumption High School is filled to capacity with an enrollment totaling more than 630 students, Father Arthur Goldammer, superintendent, announced today. Every available space has been converted in to classroom facilities, Father Goldammer stated. Last year Assumption's enrollment was 572.

May 19, 1961

There Is No Doubt About The Need To Expand High Schools

300 additional key-men were added to the taskforce of leaders taking part in the East St. Louis Educational Expansion Fund Campaign to raise $1,250,000 for the expansion of St. Teresa Academy and Assumption High School. The new men attended the 1st Memorial Training Meeting at the Assumption High School auditorium last Thursday; at the same time 150 campaign executives met in private sessions to report on 'pace-setting' gifts and to map out their individual parish team structures.

The campaign leaders are organized according to parishes, with each parish working toward the realization of its parish quota. Parishes raising more than their quota will be allowed to keep the excess for individual parish needs.

The need to expand St. Teresa Academy and Assumption High School was factually illustrated by a prospective enrollment report recently released by the Dicesan School Office. According to the figures contained in this report the combined enrollments of Assumption High School and St. Teresa Academy will jump from the present figure of 1,137 to 1,768 in 1965. Without additional classrooms, the two East St. Louis Catholic High Schools would be forced to turn away 1/3 of the boys and girls seeking admission in 1965.

This projection is based on the numbers of boys and girls currently enrolled in the first through the eighth grades of the 20 Catholic elementary schools in the East St. Louis Deanery.

The study shows that 74% of the boys graduating from the Catholic elementary schools enroll at Assumption High School, and that 54% of the girls enroll at St. Teresa Academy. An additional 19% of the girls enroll at Notre Dame Academy in Belleville.

This pattern of record breaking enrollments is the result of the record number of children born in the years from 1942 to 1954. Between 1962 and 1974 these children will reach 20 years of age and will then start having children of their own. Within the next few years their children, even at normal rates of birth, will be knocking on our school doors and another wave of increased enrollments will begin. The high enrollment situation is not temporary. It could last for 40 to 50 years.

July 14, 1961


The Assumption-St. Teresa band played and amid a shower of balloons and confetti, and with the volunteer workers from parishes in the East St. Louis Deanery flourishing paper "top hats," the Catholic High Schools Expansion Fund Campaign reached within $47,000 of the minimum goal ($1,250,000) at the July 10th report meeting.

The 20 parishes reported a total of $1,203,056 in pledges, with yet another week to go in the general phase of the drive for the expansion of Assumption High School and St. Teresa Academy.

His Excellency, Most Reverend Albert R. Zuroweste, D. D., attended the report meeting and congratulated the hundreds of workers who were present for the extreme efforts they have put forth thus far on the campaign. During the final week of the drive, His Excellency urged the workers to visit all prospects who have not been contacted to date, and with an all out effort the campaign will be blessed with overwhelming success.

Dr. Herman Nebel, general chairman, presided at the meeting, together with Reverend Arthur Goldammer, clergy-moderator.

At the June 26 meeting, two parishes (St. Henry and St. Mary) surpassed their goals and received "top hats" signifying their going over the assigned goal.

Joining in the victory parade of goal-passers Monday night were these eleven parishes: Sacred Heart, East St. Louis; Immaculate Conception, East St. Louis; St. Adalbert, St. Elizabeth, St. Regis, St. Joseph, St. Patrick, St. Philip; Sacred Heart, Dupo; St. Alber the Great; and St. Martin of Tours.

In topping their quotas the leaders and workers of the goal-passing parishes won the right to wear "top hats" and "over the top" ribbons were placed on their parish banners.

Enthusiasm and excitement reigned supreme as each individual parish chairman shouted in his current report and the results were posted on a giant "tote board." As soon as a parish would exceed its quota, a spontaneous parade would develop, led by a "select combo" from the band, marching around the huge auditorium in political covention style to celebrate their victory.

At the outset of the drive it was announced that any funds in excess of the parish's quota would remain in that parish for its needs as determined by each individual parish.

The final phase of the campaign, called the Business and Friends Phase is now in progress, and will continue during the coming week.

May 18, 1973

New Co-Educational Diocesan High School Planned for East St. Louis

A joint statement of major importance for the future of private scondary education in East St. Louis was made following a recent meeting at Assumption High School. Serious planning has begun to establish a single diocesan secondary school in East St. Louis beginning in September of 1974, to replace the two schools presently serving the high school students of the area, St. Teresa Academy and Assumption High School. This statement was made jointly by Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste and representatives of the provincial administrations of the two religious communities involved, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and the Brothers of Mary.

The difficulty of financing two schools and the pattern of decreasing enrollments in both schools were key factors in arriving at the decision in favor of consolidation.

This new co-educational school will be located at Kingshighway and St. Clair, the present site of Assumption High School.

Sister Irene McGrath, provincial superior of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, said that the decision to discontinue St. Teresa Academy as an all-girl school, effective for the 1974-75 school term, was made by the St. Teresa Academy Corporation at a May 5 meeting at the provincial house in Ruma, Illinois. Sister stressed the fact that this decision does not imply that the Adorers of the Blood of Christ are terminating their services to the people of East St. Louis. While continuing to serve in the area of secondary education in the new school, the Sisters also hope to continue their service in other ways at the 25th street and Ridge avenue site.

The diocese and the two religious communities will continue designing major aspects of their cooperation in this new venture. They will set up a steering committee from the two schools to develop the philosophy, objectives and organizational stucture of the proposed school.

February 15, 1974

Agreement for New Assumption Signed

Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste, D. D., today announced the signing of the formal consolidation agreement for the new Assumption High School. The contracting parties are the Diocese of Belleville, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ and the Marianists (Brothers of Mary.)

The consolidated high school will occupy the site of the present Assumption High School and will be staffed by Religious of both orders, Diocesan priests and lay men and women.

The planning committee began its initial study in May, 1973 and appointed a steering committee under the chairmanship of Sister Kathleen McGuire, ASC, which began its work in August, 1973 to bring all the various facets of a new school into being.

The first administration of the new school has been announced. It will consist of a team administration of Bro. Eugene Meyerpeter, S.M., Executive Director; Sister Kathleen McGuire, ASC, Director of Academics; Mr. Ken Pajares, Director of Student Personnel Services; Sister Mary Catherine Clark, ASC, Director of Pastoral Services; and Bro. Conrad Seibel, S.M., Director of Business.

The testing of the incoming freshman class was accomplished in January, and the registration is proceeding during the month of February. Detailed information will be forthcoming to interested parties through the news media, and through correspondence with students who will be attending the new Assumption High School. February 28, 1974, has been announced for the registration of incoming freshmen for 1974-75.

It is Bishop Zuroweste's hope that the consolidation of St. Teresa Academy and Assumption High School and whatever sacrifices are involved in the consolidation process will help stabilize the East St. Louis community and continue to bring quality Catholic education to the community of the East St. Louis area.

September 6, 1974

H. S. Enrollment Totals 3,229 But Decline Rate Is Only 7.3%

Tentative figures show a total enrollment of 3,229 students in diocesan high schools for 1974-75. The greatest decline was at Assumption, where students from the closed St. Teresa Academy are included this year. The overall total at the two schools last year was 953. This year the enrollment at Assumption is 805, a decline of 148 from the two schools' total last year. The total of 805 is about evenly divided between boys and girls with the tentative figures showing 408 boys and 397 girls. Last year there were 527 boys at Assumption and 426 girls at STA. There are 196 freshmen, 201 sophomores, 214 junios and 194 seniors at Assumption this year

January 20, 1989

Assumption Closing

In an announcement to be made public at a news conference today, Bishop James P. Keleher accepted the recommendation of a study committee to close Assumption High School at the end of the 1988-89 academic year.

Major factors in the decision to close Assumption High School, the Bishop said, are "declining enrollment, lack of long-range financial support, extensive building repairs and asbestos abatement."

May 19, 1989


The final graduation exercises for Assumption High School, for the Class of '89, will take place at 7:30 this evening, May 19, at St. Peter Cathedral, Belleville. Bishop James P. Keleher will award diplomas to the sixty-seven graduating members of the '89 class.

Assumption High School, as announced by Bishop Keleher earlier this year, will close after the current semester, ending 60 years of Catholic high school education in East St. Louis. Central Catholic High School, the forerunner of Assumption High School, opened in 1929 in downtown East St. Louis. The high school moved to the new Assumption site in March of 1953.

May 20, 1989

Assumption Students, Bid Fond, Final Farewell

Assumption High School held an emotional last graduation Friday night at St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville.

The high school, which will close at the end of the school year because of financial difficulties, had 67 graduates. Twenty-eight received college scholarships.

"You will not be able to tell us of your success and you will have no school to come home to. No one can take away the memories," said Sister Paulette Patritti, executive director of the school who was also the class's freshman and sophomore coordinator. She said the spirit of the school will live on.

Belleville Diocese Bishop James P. Keleher said the school is "a star which will continue to illuminate our church and community for years to come.

"The Assumption star will endure because it's in your hearts, your minds, and your souls. The star may have passed, but the light will endure," he said.

When Inega Taylor, the class valedictorian, got up to address her class, she reminded them that they were the last class to graduate from the school. She said that Assumption, family and God had been responsible for building a foundation within the lives of the students attending the school. "We have succeeded in reaching our final destination at Assumption," Taylor said.

Patritti told the class that there are three ingredients for success -- confidence, compassion and commitment. "you can make a difference in the world with these three things," she said. "People remember you for who you are, not what you do."