Our School’s Rich History
Resurrection Catholic School was founded in 1991 as a consolidation of Saint Mary’s, Saint Joseph’s, and Saint Anthony’s schools. These schools have served Catholic families for over 166 years in the city of Lancaster. The decision to consolidate was made by Bishop Nicholas Datillo of the Diocese of Harrisburg because of declining enrollment and financial difficulties of the three schools. St. Joseph’s School was returned to the parish in 1993 and St. Mary’s in 2011.
The building currently being used was St. Anthony’s school since 1895. The building is the oldest continuously operating Catholic school building in Lancaster County.
The name Resurrection was chosen to represent the rising and beginning of a new school from the consolidation.
Resurrection Catholic School’s beginnings stem from the former St. Anthony School which began in the St. Anthony of Padua lower church in 1871, just two years after the church was built.
The lower church area was divided into two sections, and the part nearest Orange Street became a school. Originally, it consisted of one 64×30-foot room, but during the 1880s, the area was enlarged and made into four rooms.
About 60 students were enrolled the first year. The children started school in what was known as the ABC class, after which they had to complete five “readers,” by which time they were usually 12 years old and considered ready to go to work.
Boys were segregated from girls. The first teachers were Miss Annie Coyle for the girls and Mr. Joseph Kopf for the boys. Miss Coyle later became Sister Mary Anthony of the Sisters of Charity.
In 1895, the cornerstone for the new school was laid. After a fire destroyed the top floor in 1922, the school was enlarged. Architect William Bentz designed the new gymnasium/auditorium, and it became, as it remains today, a central location for girls and boys basketball.
St. Anthony’s became Resurrection Catholic School in 1991-92. It held the upper grades 4 through 8 until 2010, when all grades, kindergarten through 8th, came together under one roof.
Historic St. Mary’s
Founded by Jesuit missionaries in 1741, Historic St. Mary Church celebrated its 275th Anniversary in 2016. It is the fourth oldest Catholic Church in the original 13 colonies. St. Mary’s school actually began in an orphanage.
Concern for the orphaned and destitute was first expressed in 1823 and 1844 in the wills of two parishioners who wanted to see a Catholic school. Not until 1871 were funds directed to the St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum. Located in a rental home in the second block of S. Queen Street, the orphans’ home was recognized in the community as a school as well as a home for the care of orphans.
In 1872, the Sisters of Charity opened a convent in the Orphan Asylum building at 128 S. Queen Street. It was called St. Mary’s Academy. In 1877, they moved to the first block of S. Queen Street and opened a tuition-free parochial school that continued until 1884 when regulations changed and boys and girls were separated. The girls moved to the new building on the corner of Vine and Beaver Streets. Boys went to private homes or other orphanages. The Vine and Beaver Street site was called St. Mary’s Parochial School.
When Resurrection was formed in 1991, St. Mary’s housed a preschool. Later, primary grades were held at St. Mary’s until 2010 when the school was returned to the parish.
St. Joseph’s school began in the basement of the three-year-old church in 1852. Jacob Teufel was the first teacher.
Later in the 1860s, boys, girls and small children were taught separately in three rooms. In 1868, the Sisters of St. Francis came from Glen Riddle and took over teaching in the church basement.
Sister Agatha taught the boys; Sister Ambrosia taught the girls; Margaret Neufeld taught the small children.
A new school, hall and convent costing $11,000 was built on St. Joseph Street in 1881-82 to accommodate 250 pupils.
In 1991 when Resurrection was formed, grades 5 to 8 were taught at St. Joseph’s school.
However, in 1993, those grades moved to the St. Anthony’s location and St. Joseph’s school closed, ending 135 years of education in the parish.
San Juan Bautista
Hispanics arriving in Lancaster County in the 1950s first became organized through a ministry of St. Mary’s church. The St. John the Baptist Center at 406 S. Lime Street was a central location for gatherings and social functions.
In 1972, the bishop designated St. Anthony’s of Padua’s lower church as the official place for Mass and other community functions.
In 1982, the church at 425 S. Duke Street was purchased and named Iglesia Católica San Juan Bautista after St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Puerto Rico. The congregation was named a quasi-parish in 1988 under Father Bernardo Pistone, also pastor at St. Mary’s.
San Juan became a full-fledged parish in 2003 under Father Allan Wolfe the current pastor.