By LINDA BEHRENS
“Catholic education is wonderful,” Michael Buscher says.
Buscher is the new principal at St. Bruno in Pinckneyville. He was a retired public school principal and teacher and also spent eight years as associate director for education for the Diocese of Belleville. He came out of retirement to take the position at St. Bruno because they needed a principal.
“We are putting faith together with what is taught in the classroom. Our parents think that is important. And it is,” he says.
Buscher says that the teachers are giving the students everything they have.
“It restores your faith,” he says.
Buscher and Jenny Martin, the principal at St. Andrew in Murphysboro, are happy to announce openings of a new building at one school and an addition at another.
Each of these parishes are also celebrating another milestone this summer – both are marking their 150th anniversaries.
St. Bruno in Pinckneyville and St. Andrew in Murphysboro are located 24 miles apart on Routes 13 and 127 in southern Illinois.
Pinckneyville is the county seat in Perry County, with a population of approximately 5,000.
Murphysboro is the county seat of Jackson County, with a population just above 7,000.
Neither city is heavily Catholic but both Catholic schools are growing.
Jonathan Birdsong, superintendent of schools/director of education for the diocese, says, “It is always exciting to build and add classrooms to our schools, which will allow us to better serve the communities for years to come.”
He adds, “The additions show our commitment of sharing the Gospels of Jesus Christ to current and future generations of students.”
St. Bruno Grade School
St. Bruno dates back to 1872. The grade school, built in 1887, was the first school established when the Diocese of Belleville was founded. The first school had one classroom for 60 students and a second story used as a home for the Adorers of the Blood of Christ sisters who taught at the school and had a presence there until the 1997-98 school year.
Students from the other three parishes in the county attend St. Bruno: St. Mary Magdalen, Todd’s Mill; St. Charles School, DuBois; and Sacred Heart School, DuQuoin.
“Celebrating 150 years of history at St. Bruno Parish this year, we continue to build for the future,” says Father Carl Schrage, temporary administrator at St. Bruno and St. Mary Magdalen.
“The new Junior High School building at St. Bruno School will ensure future generations a place to receive a solid Catholic education,” he says.
The new building was dedicated on July 16, during the parish’s anniversary celebration. It houses four classrooms for grades 5-8 and a science lab.
Buscher, who began his role at the school in mid-July, says the new building is a wonderful addition to the school.
“They are putting the finishing touches on it to have it ready for the first day of the new school year,” he says.”
“We thank the parish for spearheading this construction project.”
St. Andrew Grade School
In 1872, Father Jungmann, shortly after he became the pastor of St. Andrew Church, dreamed of having a school, “whose scholars would build churches.” Father Jungmann organized the first school in a room in his own house. He employed a lay teacher, Katherine Horn, and paid her most of the time from his own pocket.
Seventy children were attending the school in 1873. A new school was built in 1875.
Students from the parishes of St. Ann in Raddle, and St. Francis Xavier and the Newman Center in Carbondale also attend St. Andrew.
The addition to the current school building replaces an aging modular building outside of the school and includes four classrooms and more restrooms.
“We are so blessed and thankful for the support of the SAS community – families, staff and visitors – as now everyone will be under one roof,” says Martin.
“With additional classrooms, St. Andrew School can provide more space for learning and enroll more students.”
She says this addition will also make it more efficient for parents, faculty and bus drivers to access 8th Street. The next phase of the building project will include expanding the gym.
The celebration of the 150 years of St. Andrew School began with a blessing of the new addition to the school and a dedication of the courtyard on Aug. 10.