On September 8, 1873, Holy Redeemer Mission was founded and staffed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. It was on that same day that Reverend Russel delivered a “most impressive lecture” about the “advantage of a Catholic school and the duty of parents to see that their children receive a religious education.” He went on to extol the merits of the Sisters, who left all, sacrificed every comfort in this noble cause of Catholic education in Stevens Point.
Over the years, Catholic schools in our community continued to grow and flourish. St. Peter School began in 1887. St. Joseph school opened its doors in 1890 and was followed in 1925 by St. Stanislaus School. St. Bronislava established a school in 1914 which was destroyed by fire in 1936. With the support of a community capital fund drive, a new St. Bronislava school building was again opened in 1994.
In 1922, the Sisters of St. Joseph opened the first Catholic high school in the area, St. Joseph Academy, which was the forerunner of Maria High School. This was also the first private high school in the area. The first Catholic boys high school was established in 1947 at St. Peter’s Parish. Due to a switch in jurisdiction from the Green Bay to the LaCrosse diocese, the St. Peter high school was terminated at the end of the school year.
Pacelli High School opened on August 1, 1955. The school was built in honor of reigning pope Eugenio Pacelli (Pius XII) and would be staffed primarily by a religious order of men, the Christian Brothers. Pacelli and Maria high schools merged in 1970 and operated as a dual campus for two years. At that time, the Pacelli building was sold and the whole school moved to the Maria campus, where it continues today as Pacelli High School.
The Stevens Point Area Catholic Board of Education was formed in 1967 and was the first of its kind in the state overseeing the schools. The Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools (SPACS) today continue to provide quality, Catholic education to this community.
In 1986, consolidation of all schools took effect after a great deal of study, coordination, pain and cooperation by many people. A study was done by the Central Wisconsin Small Business Development Center, a unit of the Division of Business and Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and gave some recommendations for long-range facility use. The team looked at a total of 16 scenarios of combining and eliminating, one by one, and finally got to three workable solutions. Each was studied from the standpoint of building capacity, faculty and educational quality, and parish needs. On November 4, 1986, consolidation was approved, resulting in the creation of St. Peter Middle School (grades 6-8), and making St. Stanislaus and St. Stephen/St. Joseph schools elementary schools (K-5). Consolidation brought good things to our system such as an exploratory art program at the middle school, along with a campus ministry. Home economics and industrial arts can be incorporated and students attend those classes at Pacelli. This resulted in better utilization of teachers and resources giving students more opportunities.
In the year 2000, a number of committees reviewed the process of restructuring the schools, balancing out class sizes. The result was elimination of some of the larger classes and it allowed room for new families by creating an early childhood center (preschool) at St. Joseph and combining and restructuring St. Stanislaus (K-2) and St. Stephen (3-5) schools. This allowed the sharing resources more efficiently, both in terms of materials as well as people. Other areas that were improved were libraries, Home & School Associations and Hot Lunch programs.
On July 1, 2015, Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools was renamed Pacelli Catholic Schools. In addition, St. Stanislaus parish and Newman parish combined to form the newly named Holy Spirit Parish.
You can see that the Pacelli Catholic Schools have had a strong and rich heritage in our community and have enriched the lives of many. We thank the dedicated members of religious orders who founded, expanded, and shared their Catholic values with this community. We ask you to continue praying, volunteering, and supporting our schools to enable this important and rich Catholic tradition to flourish over the years to come.