Traditions and Legacies Strong at 160 Year-Old St. Mary’s Catholic School

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Catholic News Agency

FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS – This year marked a big change for St. Mary’s Catholic School, which prides itself on tradition. The school opened its doors in August for the 160th year of classes and “inspiring a lifelong love of God and service to neighbor.” One big difference is that the school has a new Principal, John Mein, hired after Billy Pahl retired last May from a 37-year tenure. Mein has big shoes to fill but he has hit the ground running. Mein has instilled in his students, faculty and staff since the first day to consider the legacy they want to leave each day.

St. Mary’s (SMS) is rich in legacy, many families spanning several generations. Melanie Kordzik, SMS Class of ‘75, says, “My oldest grandson has just begun kindergarten at SMS, marking seven generations in our family. The strong Catholic influence and the dedicated teachers and staff make SMS a foundation that serves the Fredericksburg community well. I’m proud to be serving on school council to help bring exciting new avenues of learning, while maintaining high standards of respect and moral obligations in a Christian setting.”

John Hext, Jr. and his wife, Amber, returned to Fredericksburg this year. “I truly enjoyed all the teachers at SMS and am so glad that my girls are attending the same school that I did,” says John. “In fact, my father’s grandmother attended St. Mary’s School. That makes Olivia and Hunter 5th generation SMS students.”

St. Mary’s Catholic School students serve plates during annual turkey dinner fundraiser

St. Mary’s has traditions that everyone looks forward to, such as their annual Turkey Dinner fundraiser on the 4th Sunday of October. This massive effort is put on by more than 350 volunteers that serve over 4,000 plates of traditional turkey and dressing in about 2 hours. This year marked the 54th year of this community meal.

Another more solemn custom at St. Mary’s is the honor guard that forms when there is a funeral procession. “It is always touching to see the entire student body lining the street in silence out of respect for the deceased. When family and friends get out of their vehicles, many are wiping their eyes and saying thank you,” says Jennifer Schandua, SMS current parent.

Stephanie Sanchez, former student, current parent and school council member remarked, “I feel blessed to have my children attend St. Mary’s Catholic School and Our Lady of the Hills Regional Catholic High School.”