Looking back at our history we can see our School (and our Parish) has been built through our love of God and love of neighbor. It was through God’s blessings and the personal relationships between the people of God that the project of building a new school was successful. It is in this spirit that our community that continues today.
Saint Ignatius School was founded on August 15, 1940 when the Holy Cross Sisters were appointed to staff and open an eight grade school in the basement of St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church at 205 W. Johanna St. It was a 5-room school for K through 8th grades. The Sisters used what had been the rectory as their convent, and Father Duffy the pastor lived in a storeroom of the church basement! Classes began on September 15, 1940 with an enrollment of 65 students. The school was staffed by the Sisters of Holy Cross: Sr. Eileen Partrice (principal), Sr. Rita Cascia, Sr. Corona and Sr. Michella Maria.
Fr. Eugene Doré, C.S.C. became pastor in 1949. The parish grew at a tremendous rate during this time period and the demand for student enrollment greatly exceeded the available school accommodations. The 218 students attending at that time stretched the limits of the school’s capacity. In November of 1953 Fr. Doré, C.S.C., purchased five and a half acres from the John La Prelle Estate for $65,000.00, which is the present location of the Church, School, Annex, and Family Center.
In 1954 parish men worked evenings from 6 to 9 pm and on Saturdays to begin construction of the convent for the sisters. The convent was completed in 1955 and an open house was held in December of that year.
In 1954 the present St. Ignatius, Martyr School Building was designed by architects Jessen, Jessen, Millhouse and Greeven; Archie C. Fitzgerald was the general contractor. This new school was designed to accommodate 450 in grades 1 to 8 and was to be constructed of Arkansas ledge and Texas limestone. Groundbreaking for the new St. Ignatius, Martyr School Building took place on October 10, 1954, and among those manning the shovel was Austin Mayor C.A. McAden. The school was completed and dedicated by Bishop Reicher on June 15, 1955, and the many celebrities on hand included Austin Mayor Tom Miller and the City Council members.
The groundbreaking for the Family Center took place on December 21, 1986. The Family Center was designed as a parish center, cafeteria, a gymnasium, and to provide additional classrooms. It was dedicated during the Parish Golden Jubilee on October 11, 1987. The Center was officially named the Fr. Gene Dore Family Center in 1989.
In 1994 the parish purchased a home at the north end of the property. The house was named André House (in honor of Saint André Bessette, C.S.C.). André House currently houses the school’s PreK3 program.
In the late 1990s and 2000s, computers and other technologies were introduced into the classroom in order to facilitate learning by more modern methods.
In recent years (2010-2015), various renovations and repairs have been made to the school, including: new ceilings in all of the hallways and classrooms, a new metal roof on the school, more efficient lighting throughout the school, and upgrades to the air conditioning systems.
Most recently, St. Ignatius Martyr School has embraced again its heritage as a school founded by the Congregation of Holy Cross, as is evident in the school’s mission statement:
St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic School, founded in the tradition of the Congregation of Holy Cross, educates the mind and forms the hearts of its children.
On May 8, 2015 to mark the beginning of the 75th anniversary of our school, a time capsule was buried in the front of the school under the big brown cross. It is to be opened in the year 2040 for the 100th anniversary.
We are indebted to the many Holy Cross sisters, brothers and priests who have dedicated their lives to the education of our young people and the growth of our parishioners for over 75 years. With God’s help we will continue to educate minds and form hearts for many more years to come!
Saint Ignatius Church was foun
ded in 1937 by Fr. Patrick Duffy, C.S.C. The parish, originally part of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, was to be named Holy Cross. The archbishop was in Rome when he became seriously ill. The sisters who cared for him told him that if he prayed to St. Ignatius of Antioch, he would recover. He did and promised to name the next parish in his diocese in honor of the saint. St. Ignatius was the next parish established.
The first Masses for the parish were celebrated at the old Wilke-Manor (Wilke-Clay) Funeral Home at 1811 South Congress Avenue. In 1939 Fr. Duffy moved to an old house in the 200 block of West Johanna Street which he used for church services until a new church was built which served 250 families.
The Holy Cross Sisters arrived in September of 1940 to open an eight grade school in the basement of the church. The Sisters used what had been the rectory as their convent, and Father Duffy lived in a store room of the church basement! He later acquired a home opposite the church to use as a rectory. Father Francis Sullivan, C.S.C. became pastor in 1942 when Fr. Duffy became a chaplain in the service during World War II. Fr. Duffy returned to St. Ignatius in 1946 and served as pastor until 1947 when Father Patrick Dolan, C.S.C. arrived. Fr. Sullivan returned in 1947 and again served as pastor until 1949.
Fr. Eugene Doré, C.S.C. became pastor in 1949. The parish grew at a tremendous rate during this time period, and in 1953 five and a half acres were purchased from the John LaPrelle Estate, which is the present location of the Church, School, Annex, and Family Center.
In 1955 a new school was built on the new land to accommodate 400 students. A new convent was also built at this time on the new property. The parishioners themselves constructed the new convent.
Planning for a new church and rectory began in May of 1962. Construction began two years later, and the first Mass was celebrated in the new church in September of 1965. The church was dedicated by Bishop Louis J. Reicher, D.D. on February 6, 1966.
Father John Payne, C.S.C. became pastor of St. Ignatius in 1968. He was succeeded by Father L. Peter Logsdon, C.S.C. in 1974, and Father C. Richard Nowery, C.S.C. in 1980.
The Family Center, an adjunct to the School, was constructed in the middle 1980's and was dedicated during the Parish Golden Jubilee on October 11, 1987. The Center was officially named the Fr. Gene Dore Family Center in 1989.
Father Larry LeVassuer, C.S.C. became pastor in 1987 and served until 1991.
Father Barry Cabell, C.S.C. became pastor in 1991. Among Fr. Barry's many contributions to this Community was his diligent work to modernize the Saint Ignatius computer systems; networking the School, Rectory, Office, André House, and Annex, and setting up an e-mail system. He also was influential in the formation of our first Pastoral Council.
In 1994 the parish purchased a home at the north end of the property. The house was named André House (in honor of Blessed Brother André Bessette, C.S.C.).
In 1998 the parish purchased the house across the street from André House. It was named the Father John Payne House in honor of Fr. Payne's dedication and service to the parish community.
In the fall of 1998, Father Jeffrey Allison, C.S.C. designed and published the parish's first website.
Father Jeffrey Allison, C.S.C. became pastor in the summer of 1999, as Father Barry was re-assigned to Newfoundland, Canada.
In August of 2001, Father Joe Moyer, C.S.C. became pastor, but was only here a very brief time. Fr. Jeff left in 2002 to pursue his PhD in theology at Catholic University of America.
Fr. Joe Tomei, C.S.C., became pastor on January 25, 2002 and was pastor until June 31, 2009 when he was transfer to St. George’s College in Chilie.
Our current pastor, Fr. Bill Wack, C.S.C., became pastor on June 1, 2009.