St. Anthony School was first conceived by Msgr. Julius Looze, the second resident priest of St. Anthony Parish in 1905. He saw there was a need for a parochial school, and arranged for 2 vacant lots to be purchased. It was not until 1912, however, that the Bishop of Green Bay, granted permission for the pastor to gather funds from the congregation to build a school. This Bishop (Joseph Fox) was a strong advocate for Catholic Schools, and dedicated the new building on Sept 24, 1913.
This School was staffed faithfully by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity out of Manitowoc. Although the parishioners were convinced that the new school building was going to serve the parish adequately for a long time, it only took four years to outgrow the school building.
By 1957, it was determined that a new building was needed. The current buildings had fallen into disrepair, and it was not economical to repair these buildings. Therefore, plans for new construction began. During this time, students were housed in O’Neill’s Auto Garage, the Cook Memorial Library, and the basement of Harlan Metzler. This was a challenging time for both the students and sisters! The new building was dedicated by Bishop Bona on September 29, 1958. It consisted of eight classrooms, convent, heating plant, kitchen, and parish hall.
On the eve of Ash Wednesday in 2013, St. Anthony School was destroyed through an act of arson. Thankfully, there were no injuries, but the interior of the school was completely destroyed. Having been an integral part of the area for nearly 100 years, it was immediately decided to reconstruct the school. Under the guidance of Fr. Joel Sember, the process quickly began. The outpouring of donations and support from the people of Oconto Falls and beyond was incredible!
For the remainder of the school year, students held classes in the basement of Grace Lutheran Church and two portable buildings. Teachers and students brilliantly adapted to their new environment. All of school’s textbooks, learning supplies, and other classroom materials were all destroyed in the fire.
In a short amount of time, the school was rebuilt into the modern and beautiful building that is currently being utilized. The staff and students of St. Anthony are truly blessed to have such a wonderful building in which they can learn and grow!