July 19, 2019

St. Thomas School to hold 90th anniversary celebration - Daily Leader Extra : Local News

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St. Thomas School to hold 90th anniversary celebration

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Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2019 3:40 pm

Members of Madison's St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church have organized a school reunion and luncheon on Sunday at St. Thomas School to celebrate the school's 90th anniversary.

The reunion event will start during the 10 a.m. Mass with a church service dedicated to the school's alumni, current students and educators.

After Mass, reunion participants will gather at the school for a program and tours of the building, according to Charlotte Groce, a reunion committee member. Groce, a St. Thomas principal for 37 years, said former St. Thomas students -- currently in middle school or high school -- will serve as tour guides. St. Thomas currently provides classes for pre-K through fifth-grade students.

Organizers have set up a midday buffet meal of pulled-pork sandwiches, salads and desserts for reunion attendees, asking that diners provide a free-will contribution for the food.

Organizers also obtained a recording of music performed by St. Thomas' "folk group," who were young musicians who performed at the church in years past (many were members of the Green and Weiland families). They will play the folk music during the gathering at the school.

"This gathering is all very informal, but we hope that visitors will enjoy their time at the reunion," Groce said.

Groce said that some families have decided to hold smaller family reunions this weekend to coincide with the 90th anniversary school reunion.

Catholics and their religion arrived in Madison during the 1880s. While the region was still a territory, Catholic missionaries visited the Madison area periodically before a resident pastor was assigned to the community.

The Rev. John Brogan and The Rev. S.S. Mattingly were among the early visiting priests. The Rev. Thomas Flynn, the first resident pastor, was the founder of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Madison, a parish that Flynn named after his patron saint.

Flynn had emigrated to Dakota Territory as a young seminarian from Milwaukee, Wis., and was ordained by Bishop Martin Marty as one of the first priests in the territory. During his 45 years in Madison, Flynn received the titles of monsignor and protonotary apostolic.

Later, The Rev. E.J. Egan arrived in Madison to serve at St. Thomas Church. Shortly after his arrival, Egan created plans for the establishment of a parish school. In fall 1928, a modern brick building, constructed at a cost of $100,000, was dedicated by the parish. The new school provided classrooms for grades 1-12.

In addition, home was also provided for the Presentation Sisters who staffed the school as educators.

After Egan's tenure, The Rev. J.M. Reuter of Colman was transferred to Madison, where he remained as pastor for 16 years. In the years following World War II, Reuter improved and expanded church property in Madison. Reuter also moved to pay off the $80,000 debt that the parish held for the school. High school classes were eliminated in 1945, and the building's second floor was redesigned to accommodate the sisters.

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