Our History

As America’s first Catholic schools, our background spans many momentous periods throughout the history of the southeastern Pennsylvania region.

Late 1700s    The first AOPS Catholic school is established at St. Mary Parish in Philadelphia, the second church built in the city.

1830-1851    Bishop Francis Kenrick begins the first push for a wider network of Catholic schools.

1851-1860    St. John Neumann calls for and oversees the opening of 17 elementary schools in Philadelphia.

1890               The first Catholic high school for young men is established.

1912               John J. Hallahan High School, the first of its kind for young women, is established.

1912               Archbishop Ryan School for Children with Deafness opens, setting a new precedent for special education.

1953, 1954   St. Katherine Day School and Our Lady of Confidence School are opened, respectively, as a response to a parents’ petition to create opportunity for children with mental impairments.

1955               St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairment is founded.

1900-1930    AOPS schools greatly expand, to 124 schools in Philadelphia and an additional 78 in four surrounding counties.

1945-1965    An additional 62 Catholic elementary schools are established.

1989               The first archdiocesan regional resource room program for students with learning disabilities is established, later expanded to two programs across three secondary schools.

1998               Bishop Shanahan High School relocates from West Chester to a new diocesan building in Downingtown.

Today             Our archdiocese now includes 102 elementary schools, 15 high schools, and 3 schools of special education!