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St. Anselm’s Parish was established on Tinton Avenue in 1892 and staffed by Benedictine priests until 1976. Archdiocesan priests then provided staffing until 1985 when the Augustinian Recollect Fathers accepted those pastoral duties. One of the great needs of any parish is the education of their children and to that end ground was broken on February 10 of 1908 for an elementary school. The Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt were invited to become an integral part of the parish caring for the school and Mother Suso became the first principal.
St. Anselm’s provided a free education for their parishioners until 1941 when a modest fee of one dollar per month was assessed all families with children in the school. During the early years of the school, they also offered a two-year commercial course to better the chances of their parishioners in obtaining jobs. There was a time when German was widely spoken on the streets of the Bronx and a facility in that language was also an asset in seeking employment. The parish therefore offered German language classes after school hours.
The parish school flourished and the initial enrollment in September of 1908 of 560 continued to grow at an alarming rate as the years progressed. It was obvious that the school needed to expand and thus a new wing was added to the old school building in 1956 which added twelve much-needed classrooms. There did, however, come a time when the population trend began to reverse itself and both the parish and school began to shrink in size. Oddly, today the enrollment at the school appears to have leveled off and today, a century later, it is just about the same as it was in 1908.
St. Anselm’s School celebrated its one hundredth anniversary last year capping off the year’s activities with a special mass and reunion on December 13th. Bishop Josu Iriondo was the main celebrant with Father Antonio Palacios, the pastor, and Father Jose Antonio Rodrigalvarez assisting. A champagne brunch followed with a tour of the school by Teresa Lopes, the principal, and her volunteers. The greatest part of the day, however, was enjoying a visit with former classmates and chatting with the nuns who taught at the school for so many years and returned to join in the grand celebration.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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