The first decades of the 20th century, as in the 21st, were ones of immigration. People arrived on our shores, fleeing oppressive governments, depressed economies and war. Many first made their way to the Lower East Side of Manhattan. However, overcrowding there caused many immigrant groups to move north. One group was Hungarian Catholics, who moved their parish, St. Stephen of Hungary to Yorkville in 1927.
As with most immigrant parishes, along with a church, they built a school. In fact, they built the school and the church as one building, and with that gave expression to their understanding that information and formation, education and faith, belonged together, all of it expressed in the language and culture of their homeland.
Under the guidance of the Franciscan religious order, St. Stephen of Hungary Church and school continued their service to the changing Yorkville community until 2015, when the Archdiocese merged parish and school with St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church and St. Monica Church.
Despite the merger, St. Stephen School remained open and has continued the commitment of its Franciscan founders to academic excellence rooted in the Catholic tradition of faith and reason, care for creation, and social justice. Still located in the building constructed through the generosity of its Hungarian founders, St. Stephen School is diverse. Along with the parish with which it is connected, it models an understanding of Catholic education dedicated both to handing on the teachings of the Church, but also to one in which “catholic” reflects its original meaning of “universal” that is, in our school, varied viewpoints are honored, different traditions are respected, and all families are welcome.
I hope you will take the time to become familiar with our school and parish family.
It is an exciting time to be a part of St. Stephen. The school is growing, our facilities are expanding into the former friary of St. Stephen of Hungary Church, and we continue to draw families from around the neighborhood and across the city who want to be a part of our school and its lively, active community.
Rev. Donald C. Baker