WITH 150 years of Quincy Notre Dame history to draw from, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., and six priests who celebrated Mass at the school Sunday focused on what is yet to come.
"It is only fitting that we look to our past and history as inspiration and hope for the future," Paprocki said during the Mass. He called the school "a beacon of light and love" that has educated and guided "true disciples of Jesus Christ."
Launched Sept. 1, 1867, the Covenant School of the Infant Jesus had a dozen female students. Within a year, 116 students were enrolled. Classes were held at Eighth and Vermont, where the School Sisters of Notre Dame focused their attention initially on the children of Quincy's German immigrants. And with each passing generation, those students became part of Quincy's and America's story.
The school's locations and its name have changed. The Quincy Notre Dame High School we know today has carried on the tradition at 10th and Jackson since 1976. Academics, technology and building programs have transformed the campus. The Willer wing created new classrooms, a conference room and expanded the cafeteria in 2006. Technology was put in the classrooms in 2008 and a Macintosh computer lab was added in 2010. Two years later, iPads were issued to every incoming freshman.
A new choral classroom, a renovated band room, a new baseball field and a new football/soccer field were built beginning in 2014 and 2016, respectively, thanks to grants and donations. Each expansion or improvement has been done with the community's assistance, with the Catholic church and with an eye toward the future. QND students have excelled in academics, athletics, music and other activities.
Donna Brecht, who graduated from the school in 1980, attended Sunday's ceremony. She told The Herald-Whig how the school has become a tradition within her family.
"I, all of my family and my kids have gone to QND," she said. "My daughter helped carry up the gifts at Mass, and I wanted to attend Mass with the bishop, so I wasn't going to miss this celebration."
QND Principal Mark McDowell told The Herald-Whig he is confident the school will provide educational opportunities for at least another 150 years. He bases that prediction on a long history of a school that has become a vital part of the community and the lives it has touched and will continue to touch.
"At QND, we pride ourselves on many traditions, most important of which is the celebration of Eucharist," McDowell said. "As we like to say around here, ‘Welcome home.' May today's Mass be a prayer of thanksgiving for the many blessings bestowed upon us over many generations at QND."
Quincy Notre Dame and its predecessors have made valuable contributions to Quincy for 150 years. We look forward to the chapters still to be written.