History of St. Felix

Catholic School

St. Felix Catholic School is rich in tradition with an established

heritage of more than 100 years.  It all began in the decade

before the Civil War – in 1858 – when the Reverend Felix Tissot

founded St. Felix Parish.  Converted Indian and settler families

felt a need for parochial education to enrich their lives and build

their faith.  Father Galtier, a missionary priest in 1840, had said

the first Mass in the locale of what is now the Wabasha Beach

Park, but, except for brief appearances by the French explorers

and others passing on the Mississippi, periods of religious

instruction were few and far between.

 

                                                                                       Two School Sisters of Notre Dame and a candidate

                                                                                       arrived in the village.  Two days later, with the

                                                                                       permission of the pastor, Father James Trobeck,

                                                                                       St. Felix School opened in the parish school

                                                                                       basement with Sister Mary Venantia and Sister Mary

                                                                                       Saturnina holding classes for 87 students.  Most of

                                                                                       Wabasha’s settlers had migrated from Eastern states

                                                                                       down the Ohio, up the Mississippi, and into

                                                                                       Minnesota territory.  They were a hardy mixture of Germans, French, and Irish, who tilled the soil and lived off the land, hunted and fished, or made a living as a trapper, trader, or logger.

The new parochial school enjoyed steady growth.  In 1881, St. Felix enrollment numbered 185 and the next year, 200 answered roll call.  The cornerstone of the building was laid on July 4, 1901.  The third catholic school in Minnesota established by the Notre Dame Order was ready for its first four-year high school graduates in 1909.  Four girls shared the honors.

St. Felix School’s program and enrollment growth continued through the years under the experienced guidance of religious and lay teachers.  Scholars and athletic teams established enviable reputations, capturing many honors.  By 1966, there were 541 students.  Then, in the face of economic hardships, the parish reluctantly voted to discontinue the high school in 1968. 

A first through sixth grade elementary program has flourished

since that time and the school has prospered as a private,

innovative center of learning.  The individual attention given each

student by a highly qualified faculty aids immeasurably in

developing all the student’s talents through a progressive program

of instruction.

 

In 1985, a kindergarten was added to St. Felix School and in 2000

a prekindergarten program for 4-year-old children.  A preschool

program for 3-year-old children began in the Fall of 2006. In the

2017-18 school year, St. Felix undertook the effort to raise funds

for a new playground structure, which was installed and ready for

use for the 2018-19 school year.