School History

Founded in 1924, St. Rita School is brought to the present by its ties to the past, especially with the religious women who have been present throughout. Learn about our special bond with St. Rita, our patroness, and the Marianites of the Holy Cross, the religious order that founded and continues to help staff our school.


St. rita, our patroness

Rita of Cascia is well-known as a patron of desperate, seemingly impossible causes and situations.  This is because she has been involved in so many stages of life – wife, mother, widow, and nun, she  buried her family, helped bring peace to her city Unmbria in Italy, saw her dreams denied and fulfilled –  and never lost her faith in God, or her desire to be with Him.

Holy Patroness of those in need, Saint Rita , you were humble, pure and patient. Your pleadings  with your divine Spouse are irresistible, so please obtain for me from our risen Jesus the request I make  of you: (mention your petition). Be kind to me for the greater glory of God, and I shall honor you and sing  your praise forever. Glorious St. Rita, you miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our Lord  Jesus Christ. Obtain for me now the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life, and protect  me in all my needs. Amen.

LeMans, France, September 15, 2007

Basil Moreau was a man ahead of his times.  He saw a need and responded.  He sent Holy Cross Brothers, Sisters and Priests as missionaries across the world shortly after the order was founded in 1830. The University of Notre Dame was established by Holy Cross.  Moreau sent his sisters, the Marianites of Holy Cross and the Holy Cross Brothers to New Orleans in 1841 to care for the orphans at St. mary’s Orphanage in the 9th Ward.  They have ministered continuously in Louisiana for more than 150 years. The Congregation of Holy Cross has grown to include members in Africa, India, Bangladesh, Haiti and South America.  There is an international session in Lemans, France each year to study the spirit of the Founder. Moreau was a man of faith.  He wanted his followers to incarnate the love and compassion of Jesus.  He believed in zeal for the mission and hospitality to all by creating a family spirit.

Again we rejoice with the Congregation of Holy Cross as it celebrates it’s first member to be declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Blessed Andre’ was canonized on October 17, 2010 in Rome, Italy. Alfred Bessette was a sickly, uneducated, Canadian orphan who miraculously became a holy Cross Brother. At the end of his noviate, Brother Andre’ was assigned as a porter at a boys’ school in montreal for 40 years.  There he practiced hospitality, care for the poor and spreading devotion to St. Joseph. Br. Andre’ collected nickels and dimes for years to the build the chapel. Although Brother Andre’ did not live to see the St. Joseph’s Oratory completed on Mont Royale, the church is filled with crutches left by those healed through the intercession of Brother Andre to St. Joseph.

Visit St. Joesph’s Oratory today,-1.30,110.0


The Beginning

After the building of the first St. Rita Church in 1922, only one thing was lacking: a school. Founding pastor, Fr. Patrick Walshe, was determined to provide one for his already growing flock of parishioners. He was aided by the generosity of parishioner Frank Palmisano, who donated $10,000 for the project. In November of 1923, a two-story white frame school building on Lowerline in back of the church was completed and dedicated by Archbishop Shaw.

Three Marianite of the Holy Cross sisters staffed the first school, with an opening enrollment of 110 children, sixty-seven boys and forty-three girls. The nuns's living quarters were located on the second floor of the school, but in 1929 they moved to a residence on the corner of Pine and Broad Place in order to provide more classroom space.


The Fire, A New Beginning

Both Fr. Walshe and following pastor Msgr. Castel planned to build a larger, more modern school building, but while World War II and finances precluded that from becoming a reality, an unforeseen disaster made it a necessity.

Many still remember the dramatic day of December 1, 1960, when news quickly spread through the parish that St. Rita School was on fire. Due to safety precautions established by Msgr. Castel -- because he feared just such a possibility with a frame structure -- not one child or teacher was injured. And from those ashes rose our present fire-resistant brick school building. The new school was built to face Fontainebleau Dr., ushering a a new era of education at St. Rita.