The grounds of Saint Anthony Catholic School in San Antonio are expected to be buzzing with excitement on May 10, when the school celebrates its 135th anniversary.
The Most Rev. Gregory Parkes, Bishop of St. Petersburg, will preside over a 9 a.m. Mass, followed by speeches by dignitaries, a spring concert and lunch.
It promises to be a festive occasion for the oldest elementary school in Pasco County and the sixth oldest Catholic school in Florida.
Sister Alice Ottapurackal, school principal, said parents, community members, faculty, staff, students and an advisory board have all played a role preparing for the occasion.
The school, at 12155 Joe Hermann Drive, has 210 students, in kindergarten through eighth grade. It emphasizes academic excellence and faith formation, the principal said.
To gear up for the anniversary celebration, each class researched a 15-year period and fashioned posters sharing facts about events in the Catholic Church, and in the world at large.
The community celebration of the school’s anniversary is fitting, in a place that shows such strong support for the school and appreciates its history, Sister Ottapurackal said.
It’s also an expression of gratitude.
“We’re so grateful for this many years of blessings that God has given us.
“We are celebrating the joy and the gratitude of the opportunity to serve the people for 135 years,” the school principal said.
In addition to blessings from God, the school has enjoyed the support of the community, families with children at the school, the staff, the Franciscan Sisters, the Benedictine Sisters and Monks, and the Diocese of St. Petersburg, she said.
“We all just come together,” she said.
“People have a special love toward this school,” she said. “Whenever we ask for help to improve this school, people are ready to help.”
The school initially opened in 1884, in a 12-foot by 24-foot schoolhouse. That was followed by a two-story frame building.
Next, came a three-story brick building, constructed in 1922, which served thousands of students over decades.
A new building was constructed in 2015, designed architecturally to match the 1922 structure. The St. Petersburg Diocese’ Forward in Faith Capital Campaign made the new structure possible. The 1922 structure was renovated in 2016, through the support of the parish community.
One of the special guests invited to the May 10 event is Mary Louise Clift, of San Antonio.
Her family, originally from Germany, came to the area in 1920, and her father helped to build the 1922 brick structure, the principal said.
Anyone who would like to attend the festivities is welcome, Sister Ottapurackal said.
“The people here are so into history and tradition. They value it. We want to celebrate with them,” she said.
Saint Anthony Catholic School turns 135
Where: 12155 Joe Hermann Drive, San Antonio
When: May 10: 9 a.m., Mass; 10:30 a.m., concert, and other festivities
Details: The Most. Rev. Gregory Parkes, Bishop of St. Petersburg will preside over the Mass. There will be a spring concert following the Mass. Dignitaries will speak and then there will be a family lunch, with everyone treated to lunch.
Info: Call Saint Anthony Catholic School at (352) 588-3041.
Revised May 13, 2019
Published May 08, 2019
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