St. Anne’s Parish established St. Anne’s School in 1925. Located at 385 North “F” Street in Porterville, a new structure was built in the Mission-Revival style to accommodate the school, as well as a new home for the church. Construction was completed under the pastorate of Rev. Patrick Daly. Upon completion of the new church/school in 1925, the original St. Anne’s Church building was demolished. By 1951, a new church building was completed and dedicated across the street from the school.
Most Rev. John MacGinley, Bishop of the Diocese of Monterey-Fresno, traveled to the 1926 Eucharistic Congress in Chicago. On the train, he met Mother Albertine and Mother Rosario of the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur. Bishop MacGinley began conversing with the sisters and expressed the need for teaching religious in the Diocese, especially at the recently completed school in Porterville. After a couple months’ deliberation, the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur, whose order was founded in Belgium and has American headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, agreed to staff St. Anne’s School. Sister Superior Beatrix, Sister Agatha, Sister Saint Clare, Sister Saint Anthony, and Sister Mary were members of the first faculty.
The school’s first commencement program was held on June 3, 1927. The eighth grade graduates of the first class were Joseph Duggan, Jack Roberts, Alphonse Gagnon, and Walter O’Reilly. The following year there were eight graduates. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, St. Anne’s School had graduated over 1,300 students. Walter O’Reilly, who gave the first commencement address in 1927, remarked,
“…our hopes are high, that before many years have passed away, St. Anne’s may be sending forth her pupils from well crowded portals, from a school noted for its ideals and its achievements…We pray that we may always strive for the good, the noble, and the true. That …we may be true to our Church, to our country, and to our school.”
After fifty years of successfully and lovingly staffing St. Anne’s School, declining vocations forced the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur to pass the baton of administration to the Sisters of the Love of God in 1977.
The Sisters of the Love of God (Religiosas del Amor de Dios, R.A.D.) is said to be an order “conceived in Cuba and born in Spain.” The now Venerable Jeronimo Usera as a teaching mission in Cuba founded the community in Spain. The Sisters of the Love of God grew to be the largest primary grade level teaching order in Cuba. The Communist takeover of the island nation in 1959 led to the expulsion of all foreign religious workers, including all teaching orders. The Sisters of the Love God from Cuba, whether Spanish-born or Cuban-born, were exiled to the United States. The refugee Sisters initially relocated to the eastern United States, but were later invited to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The order now has communities in many parts of the world.
In the early 1970’s the Sisters of the Love of God joined the Diocese of Fresno, where they worked at Sacred Heart School in Fresno under the guidance of the pastor, Monsignor Maurice Lahey. Monsignor Lahey became pastor of St. Anne’s Parish in 1977 and asked the Sisters of the Love of God to succeed the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namu
Sister Caridad Reguera, Sister Maria Cristobal, Sister Bernadette Bartolome, Sister Rosario Mediavilla, and Sister Milagros Martin were the first Sisters of the Love of God to arrive in Porterville on July 25, 1977. Currently those sisters serving our school and parish are Sister Carmen Fernandez, Sister Goretti Perez, Sister Invencion Canas, and Sister Maria Eugenia.
Over the past eighty-seven years, we have grown from a small, enthusiastic group of families to a thriving school with over 200 students in grades preschool through eighth grade. We are proud that some current students are second-generation St. Anne’s School students! Extensive renovations and upgrades through the years have enhanced the outreach of the school and broadened our educational program.
The school campus includes classrooms for grades kindergarten through eighth with SmartBoard and Promethean technology in seven classrooms, a separate building and playground for the preschool, the Richard Hood computer lab, a library, a teachers’ lounge/Title I resource room, a cafeteria, a playground, basketball/volleyball courts and an educational science garden. Dillon Hall is housed in the main school building and functions as the parish hall as well as a venue for school-wide gatherings such as assemblies, plays, and daily morning prayers.
The cornerstone of the school reads A.M.D.G.,
“Ad Majoram Dei Gloriam-To the Greater Glory of God.”
St. Anne’s School continues the celebration of our Catholic faith with a long history of providing an academically rich and faith-filled education. The majority of St. Anne’s School graduates enter honors or college preparatory courses at local high schools. Most then go on to colleges and universities throughout the United States. We are blessed to contribute to the intellectual and spiritual growth of these fine students and to be recognized in our community as a school of true excellence.