The first of Bishop Louis DuBourg’s recruits — Vincentian
Fathers Felix DeAndreis and Joseph Rosati — traveled from France in 1817
and planted roots in Perryville. The soon-to-be St. Louis Diocese would
never be the same.
They founded St. Mary of the Barrens Seminary,
the first seminary west of the Mississippi River, and administered the
St. Louis seminary that developed into Kenrick-Glennon Seminary of the
present day. They also made a home for their Congregation of the
Mission, established numerous parishes and schools, and developed the
National Shrine of the Miraculous Metal on St. Mary of the Barrens’s
In short, they made holy ground in Perryville, which
might be the best way to explain the national honor recently bestowed
upon St. Vincent Schools of namesake St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
the second time in four years and third in eight, St. Vincent has made
the Catholic Education Honor Roll among the top 5 percent of Catholic
schools in the country. The Cardinal Newman Society has recognized more
than 300 Catholic high schools since initiating the national program in
“Catholic identity” is the most significant aspect of the
honor. Academic rigor and accomplishments are big components, but
Catholic identify embedded throughout the academic sphere sets Catholic
education apart. And there’s no mistaking Catholic identity at St.
Vincent Schools, which incorporates kindergarten through 12th grade —
575 student in all.
Just inside the front doors, St. Vincent de
Paul and St. Louise de Marillac of the Daughters of Charity greet
visitors, on either side of the school’s mission statement, which is
above a St. Vincent statue.
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic
Schools, united in Christ and guided by the spirit and educational
values of St. Vincent, transform each student through the power of faith
Then, inspirational quotes from the Bible and
literature adorn the colorfully painted hallways and classrooms,
religious statuary and artwork are sprinkled throughout, and the paint
scheme gives the library a church-like look and feel.
come in, you can visibly see that it’s Catholic, and that’s really
cool,” said head of schools Patricia Hensley, in her sixth year at St.
Vincent. “That’s what we’re all about.”
Stewardship and service
loom large at the school, where the slogan is, “Together. We serve.”
Through summer service trips to locations around the country and in-town
service days, students regularly far exceed service-hour commitments.
For the past six years, graduates have topped 7,000 service hours over
four years of high school, almost double required of an average class
size of 45.
Considering the significance of Perryville in the archdiocese’s history, none of that is surprising.
community is very Catholic-oriented by its nature,” Hensley said. “It’s
a really strong Catholic community, very committed to Catholic
And it’s been that way for two centuries.
of families — great grandparents, grandparents, moms and dads, sisters
and brothers — have come through this school,” Hensley said. “Our
students come through a tradition of giving; they live the mission.”
also draw inspiration from each other; about a fourth of the high
school-aged students — 50-60 of 225 overall — participate in summer
service trips. And they also draw inspiration from faculty.
can really tell they care about us,” junior Sara Kapp said, noting their
willingness to work with students. Small class sizes also play a big
“We get to know everyone,” senior Jackie Verseman said,
adding that teachers readily help out if a student is having a bad day.
“They really care about the individuals.”
Junior Mollie Baer described teachers as, simply, “role models,” with their faith clearly demonstrated on Sunday mornings.
“We see them at church,” Baer said, noting their roles at the center of the faith, “giving out the Eucharist.”
Since 2010, three schools in the Archdiocese
of St. Louis have made the Catholic Education Honor Roll, among the top
Catholic schools in the country. The Cardinal Newman Society initiated
the nationwide program in 2004.
2018 • St. Vincent Schools, Perryville.
2014 • St. John Vianney High School, St. Louis; St. Pius X High School, Festus; St. Vincent High School
2010 • St. Vincent High School
Note: Gateway Academy, now closed, made the honor roll in each of the program’s first five consecutive years, 2004 to 2008
Three St. Vincent Schools students were
honored at Mass on April 11 for their essays about the Annual
Catholic Appeal, which supports the school. Here are snippets from
the winning essays:
Maegyn Huber • Everything
that has been given to us, including our talents, family, and wealth,
are all blessings from God. Together, we should use all of these to
better the name of God and turn praise toward Him.
Joseph Baer •
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens
me” Philippians 4:13. This quote inspires me to use my
talents for God. With God no task is too big for
me to accomplish.
Gabrielle Roth • We
have a duty as Christians to do our best to help
others, practice stewardship, be informed of the impact
of our generosity, and have the courage necessary to
do all of it.