May 24, 2015

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The History of St. Rita of Cascia High School

St. Rita of Cascia High School was founded in 1905 by the Very Rev. James F. Green, O.S.A. Construction of what was Green Hall was the initial step in forming the original campus. Student enrollment mounted rapidly and in 1922, when the pressure of other duties necessitated Fr. Green’s retirement from scholastic work, St. Rita High School had become established in Chicago as one of the leading secondary schools.

Successor to the founder was the Very Rev. William L. Egan, O.S.A., during whose incumbency the original Harris Gym and Egan Hall were completed. The Very Rev. Joseph B. Kepperling, O.S.A. followed Fr. Egan in 1926, but his splendid work was brought to an untimely close by his death on June 4, 1929. The Very Rev. John J. Harris, O.S.A. was selected as the next rector to direct St. Rita’s destiny.

In the summer of 1935, the Rev. Ruellan P. Fink, O.S.A. succeeded Fr. Harris. Fr. Fink was the motivating spirit of many noteworthy developments, of which the most important achievement was the installation of a technical course in 1936.

Fr. Fink also began an extensive expansion program as evidenced by the erection of the Mendel technical building, completed in June 1938, and the addition to Egan Hall, completed in August 1939. A modern concrete stadium was built in 1946 and the new monastery was completed in May 1949.

Rev. John E. McLaughlin, O.S.A. succeeded Fr, Fink in 1956 as Principal. In 1962 Rev. Francis P. Crawford, O.S.A. became Principal. He was succeeded in 1968 by the Very Rev. Daniel B. Trusch, O.S.A. In 1971 Rev. LaVern J. Flach, O.S.A. became Principal; in 1979 Rev. David L. Brecht, O.S.A., in 1983 Rev. Patrick E. Murphy, O.S.A. became Principal and in 1989 Rev. Bernard R. Danber, O.S.A. was appointed Principal. Both Fr. Murphy and Fr. Danber are graduates of St. Rita High School.

On June 27, 1990, Rev. Bernard R. Danber O.S.A. was given the keys to the new campus at 7740 South Western Ave. In 1993 a new president-principal model was adopted for the school. Rev. Michael J. O’Connor, O.S.A. became the school’s first president. Fr. O’Connor appointed Mr. Joseph F. Bamberger as Principal. In the year 2000 Rev. Thomas R. McCarthy O.S.A. was then named the second President and the first alumni president of St. Rita High School. In the spring of 2002 Fr. McCarthy became President-Principal after Mr. Joseph F. Bamberger retired after 42 years of dedicated service to St. Rita High School.

In 2007, Fr. McCarthy began to focus full-time on the duties of the President, and St. Rita named its first female Principal, Mrs. Sally E. Deenihan. Mrs. Deenihan retired in July 2010, after 25 years of service, and Mr. Brendan J. Conroy succeeded her as Principal.  Mr. Ernest J. Mrozek, a 1971 St. Rita graduate, succeeded Fr. McCarthy in July of 2012 to become the third President of St. Rita High School.

Major Historical Dates

1909: First Graduating Class

1922: Catholic League Baseball Title

1924: Cascian Publication Begins

1929: Christian Woman’s Organization Founded

1930: Ritan School Newspaper Founded, Father’s Club Founded

1944: Alumni Association Incorporated

1947: Marching Mustang Band Incorporated

1951: Chicago Baseball League Champions

1952: City Basketball Champions

1963: City Football Champions, National Football Champions

1970: City Football Champions

1971: City Football Champions

1975: Hockey Kennedy Cup Champions

1977: City Football Champions

1978: IHSA State Football Champions

1982: State AAA Hockey Champions

1984: Hockey Kennedy Cup Champions

1987: Honored Exemplary School Department of Education

1989: Kairos Retreats Instituted

1990: Move to 7740 S. Western

1992: Hockey Kennedy Cup Champions

1999: Named one of top schools by US News & World Report

2000: 95th Anniversary of school

2003: IHSA State Wrestling Champions

2004: IHSA State Wrestling Champions

2005: 100th Anniversary of the school

2006: Named One of Top 25 Academic Catholic Schools in the Nation

2006: IHSA State Football Champions

2007: City Football Champions

2008: Hockey Kennedy Cup Champions

2009: Hockey Kennedy Cup Champions

2009: City Football Champions

2010: Hockey Kennedy Cup Champions, Hockey State Champions

2010: Kairos Celebrates 100th Retreat