A somewhat rainy Saturday didn’t stop some students from heading to St. Vincent de Paul School. Their attendance honored the school’s first days — it rained then too — and paved the way for its future.
Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares joined Fr. José Jesus López, pastor, other priests and key leaders from the Daughters of Charity for a Nov. 23 blessing and dedication of the school’s long-awaited expansion efforts.
The addition of the St. Elizabeth Seton and St. Catherine Labouré modular buildings alongside classroom juggling on the permanent campus allowed the school to become double-graded again. Declining enrollment forced the 54-year-old Maryvale campus to only offer one classroom per grade since 1990.
It had peaked at 787 students in 1966 when the kindergarten opened, but managed to steadily grow from less than 300 students — including preschoolers — five years ago to 556 today. The staff has also grown from the Vincentian priests, four Daughters of Charity and one lay teacher who opened St. Vincent de Paul to at least 25 faculty plus aides now on payroll.
“We have only begun completing God’s initial pan,” Sr. Julie Kubasak, D.C, said. The principal prayed that future growth continues with God’s inspiration.
Bishop Nevares called the school’s progress a great monument to the witness and service of the work began by the Daughters of Charity and Vincentian priests. The bishop himself encountered both orders throughout his formation and speculated that perhaps future bishops and women religious sat among the crowd.
“What a beautiful privilege it is for us to be in the presence of God and to see His blessings — how the seed of faith has been planted 60 years ago and how it bears fruit today,” the bishop said.
Students were thankful for the work that went into expanding their school too. Enrollment offered two classrooms per grade level last year in temporary spaces. Now everyone has a permanent place to learn.
A student choir, largely third and fourth-graders, sang “Demos Gracías a señor” for alumni, parents, teachers and benefactors while the bishop blessed the new space. Abby Hernandez, eighth-grader and student council president, escorted the bishop through all four junior high classrooms, explaining each one prior to the blessing.
A personal welcome note awaited him in the science lab. The bishop prayed that student lessons, especially art, lift their spirit and soul to the things of God.
The bishop also blessed expanded office space. A third modular for the development office and other administration was also part of the expansion. The bishop prayed that the fruit of the Holy Spirit be evident in that workspace.