Scottsdale - Our Lady of Perpetual Help
In 1930, Scottsdale residents raised funds to build the first church building in their town. Mexican-American families worked daily making adobe to build the new church walls. Under the supervision of Father James P. Davis in 1932, construction began in earnest and the Catholic Extension Society donated $1,000 with the stipulation that the Church be called Our Lady of Perpetual Help (now called the Old Adobe Mission). The parish grew quickly and a second church and parish school were built in 1956. During the early years, Sisters from Chandler went to the Scottsdale area to teach catechism and church music to the Yaqui Indians.
However, in 1956, Mother Claudia, who had expanded four new western missions in under seven years, was hesitant to take on the new OLPH school. In January of 1956, Mother Claudia wrote to the pastor, Father Eugene Maguire, “Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a hope we will have to give up – and we would love to have a school under that title.” Father Maguire, and several concerned parishioners spoke to Sr. Ann Augusta Schroth, principal of St. Catherine’s of Sienna. She made an intercession to Mother Claudia. Sr. Margaret Anne Hanley, who had been teaching piano, was sent to Scottsdale. In addition, Srs. Anna Mary O’Brien and Mary Elizabeth Dunnegan taught at OLPH school that first year. It was a providential move. By 1971, the population of Scottsdale had swelled from less than 10,000 to nearly 70,000.
“An interesting item in Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s annals tells of sixteen Yaqui Indians receiving their First Holy Communion at the close of the 1959 Religious Vacation School. They were transported to class in a bus which went out twenty miles to their Village. Father Maguire in a catechetical speech once marveled how all these Indians could sing a Mass in Gregorian chant. What the pastor did not realize was that some years prior our Sisters had been asked to teach in this Yaqui Village. It was Sister Marie Elizabeth Leonard’s excellent musical ability which made such a Latin Mass possible,” wrote Sister James Marie Malone, The History of the Sisters of Charity in the Southwest.
Around 90 Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill have been missioned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help School.
In March of 1965, a representative from the N.C.E.A. came to OLPH to conduct an evaluation. Sr. Mary Donald Cusick conducted the tour alongside Father Maguire and Sr. Rosaline Walsh. “Since modern equipment, the latest techniques, and creative art were the prime points of interest, first Sister Thomas Marie Miller used an overhead projector to teach a class in Modern Mathematics. Then Sister Marie Vincent Gogolin employed the speed reading machine with its accompanying film. Finally, Mrs. Florence Hovey developed a splendid Social Study lesson by making use of native songs and the students’ scrap books as proof of originality” (Malone, p. 178). The staff and students of OLPH felt honored that the school was included on this special visit.
In later years, Sr. Barbara Miller ministered to children on a deeply personal level as counselor for OLPH. Sr. LaSalette Hays helped students learn computer skills in the early digital era while Sr. Patricia Marie Stack worked as the RCIA director.
The dozens of Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill who were missioned to OLPH through the years all brought their own unique talents and experiences to the school.
Once again, the Sisters missioned to Scottsdale took time to visit the Western sites and relate their adventures to their compatriots back East.
“On May 22, 1966 a carload of Scottsdale Sisters returned from a two-day trip to the Grand Canyon. To have witnessed one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” was to them indeed a thrilling experience.” – Sr. James Marie Malone, The History of the Sisters of Charity in the Southwest
Notably, a Sister of Charity served as principal of the institution from its inception until 2010 when Sr. Marian Grace Brandt retired from her position after 19 years on the job. She is credited with bringing a real sense of community to the many parishes represented at OLPH.