Thursday, March 3, 2016



On 9-12-15 I posted a story about the old St. Theresa Literary Institution, or commonly known as St. Theresa Academy, down in my home town of Rhodelia where I attended first and second grade in 1950-1951, after which it was torn down. Well, since then, I have been given some additional old pictures by Father Bob Ray who also attended the academy for his first, second and third grade. It was originally operated by the Sisters or Loretto as a boarding and day school from its opening in 1867-1869, but was taken over by the Sisters of Charity 1870 when it reopened with 45 day students and 18 girl boarders. Several additions were added as it grew quickly. Boys under the age of 14 were admitted as boarders in 1885. This arrangement lasted till 1927 when the boarding was again restricted to girls. The last Sister of Charity retired from teaching at St. Theresa in 1990. They served our community for 120 years.     

Old St. Theresa Academy from the rear across the field. The Academy ran a farm to support the Sisters of Charity and their "day" and "boarding" students. My father bought the farm when the academy was closed. I grew up working on the farm right where the photographer was standing to take this picture.

Over the hill, to the right of this picture, was "St. Patrick Spring" where milk and other perishable items were stored in large pools of naturally cool spring water bubbling up out of the ground. It served as a large outdoor refrigerator in hot weather. I could take you there today, I believe, where we could probably find traces of its tank-like walls.

These are "boarders" at the Old St. Theresa Academy when it was a "boarding school" for orphans from Louisville mostly. That is the pastor, Father Odendahl, supervising the boys. They were called "boarder boys" by the parish. This photo was taken sometime in the 1920s. 

From right to left, an unknown Sister of Charity, two unknown women, 
Sister Luigi and Father Odendahl.

Sixth, Seventh and Eight Grades at the Old St. Theresa Academy with our church in the background.

Father Joseph Odendahl's Silver Anniversary on June 27, 1922. After serving in western Kentucky for several year and a short stint in Raywick, he arrived as pastor of St. Theresa in Rhodelia in January 1922. This photo was taken in front of the old St. Theresa Academy. He had a nice turn out of priests and an even bigger turn out of First Communicants. (That is my first and second grade classroom window on the right.)

First graders at the Academy in 1949. That's my sister, Brenda, dead center in the back row with the vertical line coming out of her hair. Notice how popular "bibbed overalls" were back then - long before they were trendy.

He was quite the musician. He could play the piano, the drums and the harmonica at the same time. He supposedly once called out to the choir during Mass, "Would Alice or Elizabeth eliminate that voice that is off?"

Apparently, he was stationed at the Cathedral one time. He would hear alley cats screeching in the night. So he wrote a musical setting to the Mass, in which he included the screech of the cats into one of the Mass parts.

The other story is that Fr. Odendahl and Fr. Hooiveld (both former pastors at St. Theresa) were in the same retirement home and detested each other. One of them kept a tub of water in his room so as to be ready to drown the other if he entered the room.


Sister Mary Ancilla Meyer, SCN, (top row, second from the left) taught me two grades in the old academy.

She taught at my parish from 1948-1965. Born in 1913, he taught at two parish schools before that, starting in 1933, when she was a twenty year old nun. This photo was taken October 3, 1950.

Here I am giving her two dozen rose on her 70th year of profession as a Sister of Charity of Nazareth a few years ago at Nazareth Retirement Home. She had perfect penmanship to the very end. In the early 1950s, she was in charge of training the altar boys of our parish. When I flunked for the third time, she said to me in exasperation, "Ronnie, you are a good kid, but I don't think you will ever be any good around the altar!" For her punishment, I made her sit in the front pew at my First Mass! Still looked amazingly young for her age, she died April 19, 2006. I loved her all those years and stayed in touch till the end. One of the last times I saw her, she showed me what she was going to be buried in - baby blue in honor of Mary, of course! "Ancilla" means "handmaid" in Latin. She took her name from Mary's response to the Archangel, Gabriel, at the Annunciation. "Behold I am the (ancilla) handmaid of the Lord! Let it be done to me according to your word." 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these pictures and early history of St. Theresa in Rhodelia. I had five happy years there during Father Meder's time. I loved reading the annals of the Sisters in the early years. Great people and a great place.