Submitted Article from Gayle Thibault
St. Andrew’s Catholic School will celebrate its first reunion on Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a Casual Meet and Greet Open House at the social hall at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. Anyone associated with St. Andrew’s is welcome.
The event was planned by Gayle Anne Suhr Thibault, daughter of Gaylan and Viola Bruns Suhr. Thibault attended St. Andrew’s Catholic School for grades 1-6. Her sixth-grade class was the last when the school closed in 1969.
About a year ago, Thibault thought it would be fun to find the St. Andrew’s School records and organize them.
“I love history,” she said. “I was afraid if the Archbishop began to close the rural parishes, we would have no story. The records would be gone. Our children would never know about our time at St. Andrew’s Catholic School.”
A business analyst, a historian, a genealogist, Thibault mostly considers herself a researcher and became curious about St. Andrew’s School and about the records. She thought it would be fun to see old photos, perhaps grade or attendance books.
Thibault called the St. Rose/St. Andrew’s business office in Crofton but found no records. She check the rectory basement, Chancery School archives and finally found one folder in the Chancery office.
“There were real estate deeds, about 45 years of annual reports, beginning in 1901, articles of incorporation from 1931, and a couple miscellaneous documents. It was a win, but still no school records,” she said.
Her next stop was to the Catholic Voice. Three photos and an article dated June 26, 1936, “The History of St. Andrew’s Parish, Bloomfield.” But still no school records.
“Somebody” said the records were in the church storage room in a file cabinet. No records. She searched titles at the courthouse and dug into the first little church constructed in 1892.
“I was hooked! The more I read, the more intrigued I became. I researched and researched and researched,” she said.
Thibault contacted the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, Wis., and found a list of all Sisters who served the school. One still living — Sister Leonina. She also went to the Nebraska Historical Society in Lincoln. She set up a group on Facebook, “St. Andrew's Catholic School Alumni, Bloomfield, Nebraska.”
She added a couple of friends and the page has exploded as they added their own photos and helped identify other St. Andrew’s students.
“This journey has done so much for me. I have prayed and prayed and prayed for direction, and I got it,” she said. “I could have given up on this project, but I kept hearing that voice that told me to believe. I did and I do. I am blessed beyond measure to have been chosen to bring this together.”
She added, “I am not a writer, but a researcher. When I started my objective was to find out what I could about our school, not necessarily to create a book; however, I have had many people along this journey ask if I would make my research available. I’ve taken lots of data and arranged it into a story. I’ve tried my best to be as accurate as possible while researching, interviewing, and compiling this story. I have added period histories of Bloomfield, Knox County, Neb., early pioneers and more, so this isn’t your typical ‘Church History.’ ”
Having started with nothing about a year ago, We Remember… St. Andrew’s School and Church is over 350 pages. The history of St. Andrew’s includes church, school, pioneers, Bloomfield and Knox County from the 1800s forward. The book will be printed. Those interested may order by June 1 for $35 plus $5 postage or pick it up at the reunion.
The public is invited to attend the reunion. Anyone associated with St. Andrew’s is welcome — students, parishioners (current and former), priests and anyone interested in St. Andrew’s.