Our History

bell tower

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic School, formerly known as St. Mary's, was established in 1912, to educate the children of Italian immigrant families that were moving into the region to work in the coal mines.  In 1901, St. Mary's Church, began construction and was completed in 1907.  The members of St. Mary's Parish made plans for a school to educate the children of the parish. 

In 1912, a three room building was constructed at the rear of the church.  When the school opened in September, there were 104 students in grades one through three registered for school.  Initially, there were two teachers that taught the student body for two years until the arrival of the Precious Blood Sisters in 1914, at the request of the pastor, Father Ermenegildo Senese.  At this time, an addition was added to the school.  In 1915, a second story to the school was constructed.    Students helped select the school mascot, the Crusaders, and the school colors of blue and red.  St. Mary's Church officially was named Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 1925, after a larger church was built. 

church cornerstone

The new school grew rapidly in enrollment during the early years.  In 1920, the enrollment reached 365 students.  The largest graduating class in the school's history was during 1930 with a total of 54 students.  By 1940, a brand new fire-proof school was erected.  It took seven more years before the large gymnasium was completed. Then in 1947, the school was expanded to add a library, cafeteria, and an extra classroom. Around this time, The School Sisters of Notre Dame took over the teaching responsibilities.


The Catholic High School opened in 1947, but was forced to close its doors three years later due to low enrollment.  That same year, The School Committee was formed to help raise funds for the school, as it still does today.  In 1960, the school yard was blacktopped, and curriculum was expanded to include Spanish and music.  The following year ushered in school uniforms for all female students.  A Board of Education was established in 1968.  There were many improvements to the school during the 1970's, including the switch from coal to oil, library renovations, new windows for the old building, and the addition of kindergarten classes


In the 1990's, the lower gym was renovated and air conditioning was installed.  A mobile classroom building was moved onto the parking lot to hold middle school students due to a double kindergarten class.  In 1995, under the pastorate of Monsignor Kenneth Schaefer,  a state of the art computer lab was added to the facility.

In 2000, there were new bleachers and doors installed in the gym, and its bathrooms were entirely updated complete with tile floors.  The following year, the parish purchased the building now known as Cabrini Hall (in honor of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini).  The building was renovated to include seven classrooms, as well as a large multi-purpose room.  The Pre-Kindergarten Program was added in 2006.  Further facility improvements include new kitchen stoves, a walk-in freezer and another renovation to the library.  


Today, this Pre-K through 8th grade school continues to extend the traditions of our Catholic faith to students in the 21st century.  OLMC has been a permanent fixture in Herrin, Illinois for over one hundred years.  It has provided continuous Catholic education to the community of Williamson County and beyond, since its humble beginnings.  Currently, properties are being purchased and plans made to build a new elementary school and gymnasium/cafeteria.

    © Our Lady of Mount Carmel School  2016 - 2017