History of St. Aloysius
St. Aloysius Parish was organized on August 1, 1928. Using four portable buildings donated by the Springfield Board of Education in June 1928, Bishop James Griffin moved these facilities to property purchased on Sangamon Avenue so that they could be used for a combination church and school. Father Ernest Burtle was appointed the first pastor in 1928.
With humble beginnings in a two schoolroom wooden building (with no indoor plumbing), Margaret Obereiter, an Ursuline graduate, and Miss Agnes McDermott became St. Aloysius’ first teachers. St. Aloysius Grade School opened on September 5, 1928. The school was finally staffed by the Sisters of the Ursuline Convent in January, 1929, with Sister Bernard Donovan as the first principal.
The subjects taught were English, Composition, Geography, Arithmetic, and History. Even at the outset, these first students had elective programs in singing, choral reading and dramatic speaking. An editorial at that time in the Illinois State Journal stated that "...the new St. Aloysius School of learning has students whose parents are of many nationalities. The school, therefore, will be a melting pot for American citizenship, where the pupils should become imbued with the traditions and opportunities of our republic."
These early parishioners and their children belonged to the laboring and working classes. A melting pot of nationalities included Irish, German, Hungarian, Croatian, Slovenian, Slovak, Lithuanian, Italian, African-American, Greek, Polish, English, Mexican, Spanish and French.
Due to very crowded classroom conditions Bishop Griffin announced on April 26, 1931, in the midst of the Depression, that a new school and church building was to be constructed. The corner stone of the two-story building was laid by Monsignor Michael A. Tarrent on June 5, 1931, and the building was completed September 1, 1931. This new school and church cost $35,000. The old portable wooden buildings continued to be used as a church hall and recreation center. On June 5, 1931, the first eighth grade class graduated. There were four student graduates.
Economic woes during the Depression plagued this new parish and school. On May 15, 1938, Father Alphonse Bertman became the next pastor, replacing Father Burtle. Father Bertman’s efforts eliminated the parish debt by 1943.
Increasing enrollment created the need for more classrooms. On June 9, 1947, the construction of a two-story wing began. It was located on the east side and contained four classrooms, office, library and lavatories at a cost of $65,000. The basement would be used for storage, a kitchen, and a kindergarten. The work was completed in May of 1948, and the debt was paid by December 31, 1952. This was the first school addition.
It is noteworthy as this parish dedicated a new church building on Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1955, that Msgr. Bertman reflected - what are the reasons for this success in a parish of which all the people are in the middle and even lower income brackets, with no one of any appreciable wealth, such as most other parishes have? He concluded that our loving Father and the generosity of a loving, generous people resulted in the phenomenal success of St. Aloysius. Click here to see the 1955 dedication program.
On September 4, 1961, the second school addition was completed. It consisted of four classrooms, an office, and lavatory facilities at a cost of $78,000.
Father Jeremiah Kirby served as St. Aloysius' third pastor during 1966-69. After he retired, he returned to Ireland.
Father Robert Franzen was appointed St. Aloysius' fourth pastor by Bishop William O'Connor on September 25, 1969.
In the fall of 1973, a committee for parish expansion was formed only two years after retiring the previous church debt. Plans were implemented for the third school addition at a cost of $465,000. This new two story building contained a library, science laboratory, kindergarten, mini-classroom and a gymnasium.
In October, 1990, Father Robert Franzen transferred to St. Joseph Church in Chatham, Illinois. Father James D. O'Shea was appointed St. Aloysius' fifth pastor on November 29, 1990. Father James O'Shea transferred to Holy Family in Decatur on Friday, July 16, 1996. On Monday, July 19, 1996, Father John Titus was appointed St. Aloysius' sixth pastor by Bishop Daniel Ryan. On September 16, 1997, Bishop Ryan also appointed Father Titus Administrator of St. Francis Cabrini Parish. Fr. Tom Liebler became pastor on July 1, 2003. Fr. Mark Schulte became pastor on July 1, 2005. Fr. Tom Donovan became pastor on July 1, 2010. On July 1, 2013 Msgr. David Lantz was appointed the tenth pastor by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki.
The dedication of the Ursuline Sisters was instrumental in the success of St. Aloysius School. A transition, however, occurred during the 1960s and 1970s whereby the teaching staff was replaced by lay teachers. By 1992, Sister Pearl Becker remained the only Ursuline Sister at St. Aloysius. Sister Mary Ellen Neeves was the last full-time Ursuline principal of St. Aloysius School, leaving in 1988. St. Aloysius School hired its first lay principal, Mrs. Carole Faletto, in August, 1988. Marilyn Missel joined us for the 1998-99 school year. IN 2007, Mrs. Jean Kennedy became the third lay principal of St. Aloysius School.
In the city of Springfield St. Aloysius symbolizes the term, "The Northend." The Northend is more than a geographic region of this city. It represents a value system, forged in an ethnic, residential lifestyle. This lifestyle is based on family and dedicated to church and community. St. Aloysius School supports this value system by instilling church, family and community into its curriculum and co-curricular programs. This commitment is expressed distinctly in its mission statement of the school.