Alumni and current students joined together with the Sisters of Charity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Saints Peter and Paul School.
The religious order of Catholic nuns have run the Mott Haven elementary school since it was founded in 1912.
A homecoming and celebration commemorated the historic occasion on Saturday, October 6.
The event included a mass and a reception for some 340 attendees, including alumni from 1938 to 2012 and guests, said Sister Michelle McKeon, the school’s principal. The mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Hartford Henry Mansell, a Saints Peter and Paul School graduate.
Lunch for all attendees was donated by school graduate William O’Meara of the Riverdale Greentree Restaurant.
Sister Michelle said she was glad to see children she taught in her first class at the school in 1968 return as adults, as well as vast swath of alumni for many generations.
“As I said in my opening talk in the church, I welcomed them to the ‘Cathedral of the south Bronx’ and I thanked them for their generosity and also for their prayers for the support of the school.
“But I also thanked them for their stories,” said McKeon. “Because when you talk to these 340 people, they will tell you some fantastic stories about growing up in that neighborhood in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.”
Alumni from those years often have fond memories of the community, and the school as being “like one gigantic big playground where every parent was watching all of the kids,” she said.
Some 32 students volunteered as hosts at the celebration, said McKeon, with one student even dressed in the traditional habit of the Sisters of Charity, worn when the school first opened at 838 Brook Avenue.
The school survives much as it always has, through rental income from part of its building that has been home to several high schools over the years, including Cathedral High School, which trained generations of clergy.
“I think it has persevered because children that come, and the parents that send them, believe that we are family,” said McKeon. “They don’t send them for security, they send them for values and also for the sacramental life, because we get a lot of kids who are baptized every year.”
The school also has a tuition that is among the lowest, if not the lowest, in the south Bronx, she said.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393