St. Louis area Catholic schools?


I am trying to find a way to compare St. Louis area parish schools and high schools. We are a little over a year way from my child starting kindergarten and I want us to be wherever we're going to permanently settle before she starts school. (I had to switch schools several times as a child and I don't want my children to ever have to do that if I can help it.) We are not currently close enough to the part of St. Louis County we want to live in for us to be able to speak to local people with direct experience.

We want to live somewhere in the South County area, with a little leeway. My immediate concerns are the quality of the education at any given parish school. Are there some parishes known better than others for their excellent K-8 programs (including strong, not wishy-washy, faith formation)?

I'm also baffled by the high school situation. Almost none of them seem to be co-ed. How do you handle having more than one child in high school at the same time if they are not all the same gender? I'm overwhelmed lately thinking about where to live so that getting one or two older kids to their school(s) doesn't take three hours out of everyone's day, what with traffic and younger siblings still at the parish school etc.

If anyone knows anything or has any opinions or experiences, please share. I don't know how many St. Louis people are here but I thought it would be a good place to start!


I don't want to detract publicly, so if you want to know which schools to avoid, pm me.

The Gateway school that was the most reliable teaching wise, and was co-ed (although I believe single sex classrooms) just closed.

The rest of the co-ed schools are diocesan schools.


Thanks for responding! I'm a fairly new Catholic, so forgive me if this is obvious, but are there non-diocesan Catholic high schools? I assumed they all were operated by the Archdiocese. What is the distinction? Do non-diocesan schools still have to meet certain requirements re: curriculum content etc. in order to be officially "Catholic"?


Not South County, but I attended Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Dardenne Prairie and high school at Incarnate Word Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school. Incarnate Word is not disocesan–it is run (well, kind of) by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (mostly by the board of trustees now, I think). I don’t really know all the implications of that. (Although someone told me freshman year that the reason we called it “liturgy” and not “Mass” was because we were not diocesan and, therefore, not really Catholic, so we couldn’t call it Mass. This was obviously untrue.)

I know of two coed Catholic high schools in the area: St. Dominic in O’Fallon and Duchesne in St. Charles. There are probably more. These are, from what I know, diocesan. I now live on the Illinois side of things, and Father McGivney High School will be opening in the area in 2012, I think, which will be a coed Catholic high school.

I wish I had more to tell you. I can give you more info on the schools I attended in a PM. Just let me know.

Best of luck finding a good Catholic school for your children. :slight_smile: I very much value my Catholic education, even if the education wasn’t always as good as it could have been. I think most schools lack at least something.


There are several diocesan schools.

the 2 that have been mentioned already,

Lots of schools are run by religious orders, or derivatives of...

Ursuline, is from the ursuline nuns, although I don't know how many are still there.
Nerinx is sisters of loretto
SLUH and Desmet are jesuit
Priory is benedictine
St. Joseph's is sisters of St. Joseph
chaminade is marianist
CBC is Christian brothers

an so on.

You can find a list]=980&tid]=981&tid]=1278


[quote="stlouismommy, post:3, topic:233835"]
Thanks for responding! I'm a fairly new Catholic, so forgive me if this is obvious, but are there non-diocesan Catholic high schools? I assumed they all were operated by the Archdiocese. What is the distinction? Do non-diocesan schools still have to meet certain requirements re: curriculum content etc. in order to be officially "Catholic"?


A non-Diocesan school is run by a religious order. A lot of times, it won't necessarily be attached to a parish. Since the order isn't directly under the jurisdiction of the Bishop, neither is the school-generally, the major difference is that there might be religious brothers there. In terms of curriculum, they aren't usually all that different from diocesan schools, although occasionally one of them might be regarded as the academically "elite" school.


St. Louis is its own unique world when it comes to Catholic schools and it can be a maze that’s for sure. We are blessed in that our Archbishop has made Catholic education a major focus. He just had a major presentation this past Thursday summarizing his listening sessions and it will be interesting to see what specifics he will eventually propose. I am major proponent of Catholic schools; I teach at local high school and I’m currently attending grad school in a program called “Catholic School Leadership” (but I’m way too smart to ever actually want to be the principal and actually in charge:))

In a nutshell - many parishes have their own local grade schools, K-8. A newer trend is several parishes sharing a school. I think we will see some changes in this model over the next few years but not exactly sure where we’ll end up.

It’s the high school situation that makes STL unique. There are 11? diocesan high schools. All but 2 are co-ed (St. Marys is all boys and Rosati-Kain is all girls). These tend to be the cheaper option. If this is the route you choose, you usually attend the school closest to your home. There are many, many non-diocesan high schools owned and operated by different orders of priests (Jesuits, Desmet & SLU), brothers (Priory or CBC) or nuns (St. Josephs or Incarnate). The Catholicity of these schools varies depending on the order running them. They range in price and the reason for choosing one over another varies from student to student.

The classic STL question of “where did you go to high school?” I think has its roots in all these choices. You can interpret the question in a negative light of trying to determine one’s religion, economic standing and location. I prefer to put a more positive light on the question because the follow up to the reply is usually "do you know such and such - he’s my neighbor, boss, nephew who graduated in … "

Good luck! I don’t know much about any specific grade schools to help you out there. I loved the parish school my own children attended and I’m a bit biased towards the high school I teach at:).


I'm also a St. Louisan, a product of Catholic education, and think that what has been said so far is helpful. I won't pretend to have a complete understanding of the educational landscape here in St. Louis, but I think you've gotten some good advice so far, particularly re: archdiocesan high schools and the others. Typically the schools that are not archdiocesan and are administered by various religious orders are "college preparatory"--ie, more expensive and more academically elite. You'll get to know the stereotypes for each in the next few years as you settle in :cool:

Also, single-sex high schools greatly outnumber coed ones in the area. I'm not sure if you have strong feelings about that (besides the concern about carpooling), but it's something to consider.

With your daughter just starting kindergarten, I really, really wouldn't stress about the high school decision at this point. There are so many options and so many variables to consider (including tuition, academic rigor, the "feel" of the school, orthodoxy, and the type of school your daughter will feel most comfortable at in 10 years). There's not really a way of knowing what will be important to your family until you're making that decision down the road.

It would be difficult to live in south county and send a child to school in St. Charles, but most other high schools in St. Louis County (and there must be at least a dozen of the 26 Catholic high schools in the area in St. Louis County) would be within reach. Once you're settled at a parish school or enrolling in a high school, transportation issues will take care of themselves--almost everyone I know carpools. I'm one of five children and for many years we were attending three different schools. With carpooling, it works.


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