(CRETE) – In 1887, when the Diocese of Lincoln was newly named by Pope Leo XIII, two Ursuline Sisters, a Jesuit priest and 46 children began a blessed and grace-filled journey in Crete that would last to the present day.
September 7, 1887, marked the first day of school for the children of St. James Parish in Crete, and the Crete community of today is finding that there is much to give thanks for in all of those 125 years and therefore much to celebrate.
Father Francis Pold, a Jesuit from Austria, was assigned to the parish of Saint James in 1885 by Bishop James O’Connor, to minister to the Czech settlers there. He had the foresight to take up the concept of beginning a Catholic school in the parish. It was the first German-English School in the area and the eighth Catholic School in the Diocese of Lincoln.
Joseph and Catherine Muff agreed to donate a block of land, where the school, hall and rectory presently are, where the parish would erect a school and a convent valued at approximately $6,000. The community raised $1,460 within a few days after the decision was made. Architectural plans were drawn for a three-story building including a basement. During the year it took for the building to be constructed, the Sisters conducted classes in a rented house and in the Church.
Since then, many other priests have served the students at St. James School, many other building projects have taken place and many souls have walked through the doors of the school. Other religious communities have also been involved in administering and in the education of the students: The Precious Blood Sisters and the School Sisters of Christ the King, who presently serve the students and families in Crete.
The parish is currently at the beginning of an exciting building project that will include a new church. On the anniversary day, the school celebrated with a morning school Mass to remind all to appreciate the Catholic school values and faith, and to give thanks to God for the rich legacy and history that has come during the previous 125 years. The students also celebrated with a special treat from the principal, Sister Mary Cecilia.
This anniversary will continue to be celebrated throughout the school year by creating a timeline and special events in the classrooms. We look forward to another 125 years of Catholic education at St. James School.