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St. Patrick High School

In 1921 the cornerstone was laid for St. Patrick High School, nearly 30 years after the founding of St. Patrick Parish in Kankakee. In the fall of 1922, Father Henry M. Shea opened the parish high school.  Under the direction of the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross, classes were conducted in the grade school building until the final phase of the high school building was completed.  St. Patrick High School, the only Catholic co-educational high school in this area, was formally dedicated on November 12, 1923.

The first graduates in 1925 were all commercial students.  By 1926, there were 112 students enrolled in both business and academic courses.  In 1931 the Clerics of St. Viator assumed charge of St. Patrick Parish, and for 25 years the Viatorians and Sisters of Loretto educated students at the school on Hickory Street in Kankakee.

St. Patrick Central

By the early fifties, the school was bulging with more than 300 students and it was apparent that a new site was needed.  Dorothy and Romy Hammes provided the funds to purchase property for the new school. No longer a parish school, the name was changed to St. Patrick Central, and served students from sixteen parishes in the Kankakee area.

Bishop McNamara High School

In little more than 10 years, enrollment had once again outgrown the facility. The closing of St. Joseph Seminary would add to the student body and in 1963, through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs.Romy Hammes, construction began on the rectangle addition to the circular building.  In the 1964-65 school year, the new addition was opened, and the name changed to Bishop McNamara High School in honor of the first bishop of the Joliet diocese who had been instrumental in the central school’s development.

The Clerics of St. Viator administered the school until 1981, when, because of a growing shortage of priests, they had to discontinue their commitment.  However, Viatorian priest, Father Erwin Savela, was hired as principal of Bishop McNamara High School and continued in that position until 1988.  Mr. David Raiche was principal for one year, and then in 1990, the Order of St. Augustine assumed administration of the school.  After 10 years, once again because of the decreasing number of priests available, the Augustinians ended their contract with Bishop McNamara High School and Mr. James Laurenti was named principal.

Bishop McNamara Catholic High School

In 2008, Mr. Kurt Weigt became principal and the word Catholic was added to our title to further promote our relgious beliefs.  In 2012, former staff member and alum Terry Granger was hired as principal. Today, Bishop McNamara Catholic continues as the only Catholic high school in three counties.  Priests from area parishes served by the school celebrate Mass regularly and assist with liturgies.  Alumni, parents, friends, faculty and students continue to “Stand Together” as we enter our 92nd year of providing Christian based education.

© 2012 Bishop McNamara Catholic High School
550 West Brookmont  |  Kankakee, Illinois 60901  |  Phone: 815-932-7413  |  Fax: 815-932-0926

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