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1/30/2014 4:05:00 AM
Eugene marks 125 years of Catholic education
O'Hara Catholic School photo
An early class in Eugene's Catholic grade school.
O'Hara Catholic School photo
An early class in Eugene's Catholic grade school.

EUGENE — O'Hara Catholic School is celebrating 125 years of Catholic education in Eugene.

In 1889, a four-room school house was built and was staffed by the Benedictine Sisters. Six years later, in 1895, the Sisters of Mercy came to run the school. Tuition and boarding was $15 per month. As the capacity grew, there was a need for a new, larger school, which was built in 1907. Then, in 1916, the Sisters of the Holy Names came; there were still four classrooms with 110 students, and there were seven 8th grade graduates that year.

In 1920, Father Edwin O'Hara came to Eugene and was pastor at St. Mary's until 1929. During his time as pastor, Father O'Hara started the first Catholic high school in Eugene. Thirty years later, the current school building was built and became St. Francis High School. The elementary school remained at the church, and the high- school-aged students moved to the new building.

As enrollment continued to grow, a need for a larger high school became evident. At the request of Msgr. Edmund Murnane, the Marist Brothers came to Eugene and in 1968, St. Francis High School students moved to newly-built Marist High School. The current building became St. Mary's School. By 1978, students from all over the area and all the different Catholic churches in Eugene and surrounding areas were attending and it became obvious that it was no longer just a parish school. The name was changed to O'Hara Catholic School in honor of the energetic former pastor.

Now, the school has students representing almost every Catholic Church in Eastern Lane county.

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