The History of St Bede Parish and School
The 1950′s were also a time of tremendous population growth, the now famous “baby boom.” Soldiers returning from WWII began families. By the early fifties a sizable number of these young families desperately sought adequate housing and good schools for their growing families. Small homes were mass-produced to provide comfortable, affordable housing. In this context, the Catholic parish of St. Bede the Venerable was established in June of 1953.
St. Bede the Venerable Parish was canonically established on July 7, 1953. The first Mass was celebrated on July 12th, 1953 in a warehouse at 8333 S. Cicero Ave., which had once served as a hangar of the Ashburn Airport.
The original St. Bede the Venerable Church, now St. Bede Gym, was opened for Mass on June 22, 1955. That same year, The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet Missouri opened the parish school. On September 11, 1955, 300 pupils were enrolled. On October 6, 1955 construction began on the present rectory at 8200 S. Kostner Avenue.
The 1955 construction of the church and school was the impetus for exponential growth and expansion. Within one year, it was necessary to build an addition to the school to accommodate the growing number of school age children who had moved into the area. The three-year-old parish had grown to 1500 families and the school had an enrollment of 480 children. Ground was broken for a twelve classrooms addition on September 6, 1956/ On May 19, 1957 Samuel Cardinal Stritch dedicated the new church, school, convent and rectory. The construction of single family homes continued and soon the parish registered more than 2,000 families. By 1959, the school had outgrown its facilities and construction began on an additional eight classrooms and an auditorium to accommodate the overflow crowds that could not fit into the church for Sunday Masses.
By 1961 St. Bede the Venerable parish had 2,300 families and a school enrollment of 1,900 children. During this “golden” time ground was broken for a new church on the Northwest corner of 83rd and Kostner. The school enrollment at this time was 1,635 children under the direction of 18 Sisters of St. Joseph and 18 lay teachers.
In 1996, the Sisters of St. Joseph withdrew from the parish. The school with an enrollment of just under 1000, was totally managed and staffed by laymen and laywomen. The spirit of dedication and commitment of the founding sisters continues in their successors.
In recent years there has been a complete technological revolution at Saint Bede the Venerable School. The school is now equipped with interactive whiteboards in classrooms, Internet access in the school, and thanks to alumni donations, four carts of iPad tablets were purchased for the school.
Saint Bede School has prepared itself to be a center for Catholic education in the parish community and the greater Ashburn – Ford City community as well. St. Bede School accepts children from outside their parish boundaries. Families no longer have to be parishioners. They do not have to be Catholic, although every student must participate in religion classes.
There is a very strong commitment by the parish community to keep St. Bede School as a center of Catholic education that is excellent and responsive to the community.