In its beginning, Annunciation was little more than a small church, a two-room school house, and two sisters with a powerful vision. The parish was named St. Anne’s, and it was started by two Sisters of St. Joseph who had come from St. Patrick’s. In 1890, a new priest came to the parish, and established a larger church and school, renaming it Annunciation. It was also this priest who invited the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth to staff and run the school.
When the Sisters of Charity first came to the school, there were 125 students enrolled and only three sisters to teach them. Over the next eight years, the school grew to 400 students, in a building with only seven classrooms and seven teachers. But despite its small staff, the Sisters were deeply committed to serving the poor and immigrants who continued to settle in the Cole and Five Points neighborhood.
As the school and community continued to grow, a high school was opened in addition to the elementary school in 1913. In the 1930’s, however, the school building was beginning to fall apart, and was finally condemned in 1938. But the tenacious sisters were undaunted, and they set up classrooms in any available space they could find – even teaching in the sacristy of the church and the dining room of the convent. After a renovation, the school reopened with 650 students, and a continued dedication to the children and families of the community.
Over time, the demographics of the neighborhood have changed. The student population we now serve is 85% Hispanic and 15% Sudanese. But throughout the changes in the neighborhood, Annunciation Catholic School continues the mission of its founders and the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, educating the children of poor and immigrant families in the Catholic School tradition of academic excellence and a commitment to our Catholic faith and values.
The following Poem, written by Annunciation Catholic School’s social worker Shelia Karpan, is a reflection on the history of our school and the legacy left by the Sisters of Charity who served in Annunciation with such love and dedication.
“We Are Not Alone”
Poem by Shelia Karpan
The word itself heralds change.
And change is coming
welcomed and feared
perhaps not unlike the first Annunciation.
It is not only life-changing
with departures and arrivals
It is the end of an era
demanding of those who stay
a resounding faith-filled “yes”.
120 years ago
young habited women
took residence on Humboldt Street
located in a poor, blended neighborhood
to teach immigrant children from
Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Mexico.
These women came with little
but they and their followers
motivated by love of the poor
saw the school grow
eventually spawning a secondary building.
Annunciation stood as beacon of hope
through waves of change.
As families moved up
more moved in.
Often change was unwelcome
with violence and gang activity.
Paradoxically it did not keep kids away.
They came for safety and for messages of hope
and those who taught
ever mindful of all they learned
also kept coming.
Today the school is filled with
immigrants from Mexico and Sudan,
Hispanics painfully aware this land once belonged to them
and African-Americans, descendants of this nation’s
Annunciation elementary is a bee-hive of activity
Liaisons with Universities, Neighborhood Associations,
Social Service Agencies, Parent Resources, Social Worker,
Counselor, Teacher Aides, Volunteers, Music, Art, PE,
And special services for special needs.
It is fueled by grants and donations and hard work.
Through the years the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth
have come and gone
and now simply gone.
But the light still burns.
Tasking us to keep the mission of Vincent and Xavier
alive and well.
The halls are hallowed with the presence of Holy Women.
Blessed are we among Women.
We are not alone.