Saint Anthony Catholic School celebrates 135 years

Saint Anthony Catholic School, in San Antonio, had a special celebration last week to mark its 135th anniversary.

The Most Rev. Gregory Parkes, the Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg, center, blesses the Eucharist at the morning Mass, during Saint Anthony Catholic School’s 135th anniversary event. (Christine Holtzman)

The day began with the Most. Rev. Gregory L. Parkes, Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg, presiding over a celebration of the Holy Mass.

The Rev. Garry Welsh, pastor of Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic Church offered welcoming remarks at the Mass and, throughout the service, the bishop reminded those gathered of the many reasons to feel a sense of gratitude for the Lord’s goodness.

“As you can see, there are a lot of things to love about being a student at Saint Anthony Catholic School,” Parkes said, during the May 10 event. “Most importantly, you learn about a person, and that person is Jesus Christ. That is a special gift that you receive while here.”

Louise Traeger Clift, the oldest alumnus of Saint Anthony Catholic School, was honored during the day’s program. The 97-year-old graduated from the school in 1935, and was one of the three students who graduated in that year.

Parkes also offered a blessing for the school’s future.

And, the bishop encouraged the school’s students to “look to the past with gratitude, look at the present with joy, and look to the future with hope.”

He reminded them that as they move forward in life, their time at the school will always be part of them.

After the Mass, a program was held under a large tent on the grounds of San Antonio City Park.

Mark Anderson, the mayor of San Antonio; and, Allen Altman, a member of the Pasco County School Board, provided proclamations.

Jessica Werckman, who has two young children at the school, introduced the speakers and also read a statement from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who wasn’t able to attend the event.

John T. Vogel II, a 2002 alumnus of the school, presented the Saint Anthony Catholic School Alumni Scholarship to two students, first-place winner Adeline Shiver and second-place winner, Carys Ragsdale.  Shiver also was the second-place winner in the Catholic Foundation Essay Winner at the Diocesan level.

Lourdes Milan’s Kindergarten class is seen performing an upbeat song called, ‘Smile, Smile, Smile.’

The event also featured a ‘Reflection of History’ presented by Lynn McCaughey.

A special moment during the program came when 97-year-old Louise Traeger Clift was honored. She is the oldest-living alumnus. She graduated in 1935, and was one of the three graduates from the school that year.

During her closing remarks, Sister Alice Ottapurackal, the school’s principal, expressed her gratitude to the students and faculty. She also announced that after nine years at the school she is moving to a new assignment in New Jersey.

Following the program, children from each grade performed songs in a spring concert, conducted by Angela Kempe. To get things started, Werckman performed a heartfelt rendition of “How Beautiful.”

The festivities concluded with a picnic lunch provided in the park and an open house tour of the school.

Published May 15, 2019

The Most Rev. Gregory Parkes, the Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Petersburg, center, arrives by golf cart to the outdoor program. The cart was driven by the Pastor of Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, the Rev. Garry Welsh. The Rev. Allan Tupa, of Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Zephyrhills, is seen on left.

The Rev. Andrew Siasa, front, and the Rev. Kyle Smith walk down the sidewalk carrying the Eucharist, on their way to return it to the church. The Rev. Siasa is originally from Tanzania and the Rev. Smith also serves as the Chaplain of Saint Leo University.

Clutching her plush Pluto doll, 3-year-old Talya Makowiecki claps after watching Fracnesca Blocher’s first-grade students perform a cheerful song called ‘Positive.’ Her mom, Kymberly, is on her left.


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