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Joseph Baer and Maegyn Huber worked in the computer lab April 9 at St. Vincent De Paul High School in Perryville. St. Vincent Schools is a nationally recognized Catholic Honor Roll School, placing it in the top 5 percent of Catholic schools in the nation.
Joseph Baer and Maegyn Huber worked in the computer lab April 9 at St. Vincent De Paul High School in Perryville. St. Vincent Schools is a nationally recognized Catholic Honor Roll School, placing it in the top 5 percent of Catholic schools in the nation.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston | [email protected] | twitter: @aeternusphoto

Catholic identity leads to national recognition

St. Vincent Schools in Perryville make Catholic Education Honor Roll

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 grounds.

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.

For 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 2004.

“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 and knowledge.

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.

“When you 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.

“This community is very Catholic-oriented by its nature,” Hensley said. “It’s a really strong Catholic community, very committed to Catholic education.”

And it’s been that way for two centuries.

“Generations 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.”

Students 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.

“You 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 role.

“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.”

Top honors

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

ACA honors

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.

Catholic identity leads to national recognition

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