- A Legacy Begins
Until this time, St. Petersburg had only one Catholic school. Seventy-five children from the beaches traveled the ten miles daily to St. Paul's School. Fr. O'Donoghue now wanted a school with eight classrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria, a convent and a rectory. Ground was broken for this new building project in the Spring of 1951 at a ceremony which was attended by many notable officials of state, county and city. Fr. O'Donoghue was a very creative fundraiser. In an effort to raise funds for a new organ, he sold pledges to buy individual keys. He devised also gimmicks to earn money for the new school classrooms. When he had determined the cost of each classroom, he divided the amount by the number of students per room and ended up by selling "squares" of the classrooms for $250
A major fund-raising event of the 1950's was the Isles Mardi Gras. There were game booths, rides and food stands. It required the cooperation and effort of practically every member of the parish. On March 17th, 1954, Governor Charley Johns officially opened the Mardi Gras festivities and joined in the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner that followed. These fairs were held every year from 1951 through 1959.
- The First Students Arrive
St. John's School opened its doors in September, 1951, with 300 students. As St. John's grew, it attracted more Catholics to the area and was considered a catalyst for the growth of the community.
- The Arrival of Fr. Patrick Trainor
In November of 1953, Fr. O'Donoghue was transferred to St. Mary's Church in Miami. More than a thousand parishioners gathered in the Church Auditorium to say good-bye. Fr. Patrick Trainor succeeded him, coming to St. John's from St. Patrick's in Gainsville.
- Our Beloved School Starts to Grow
On November 19, 1956, the third wing of the school, consisting of four classrooms, was dedicated by Auxiliary Bishop McDonough. Sister Thomasine was the school's first principal. She left in 1958, and Sister Mary Adelama took her place.
- And Grow
The fourth and last wing of the school was completed and dedicated by Archbishop Hurley in October of 1959. Under the direction of Fr. Trainor, the eight-year dream of Fr. O'Donoghue came true. The school was completely furnished with the latest school equipment. The final wing of the school building provided rooms for science, music, visual aids and a library. Also finished about this time were locker rooms and showers for both boys and girls.
- And Grow
St. John Vianney School has continued to thrive as a spiritual center and outstanding education resource for the children of area families by adding the Sr. Joan Brennan Technology Center, and by maintaining a challenging curriculum taught by an experienced certified faculty in a faith filled environment.
- Catholic Schools Raise the Standards!
The tradition of providing excellence in education continues through today. In understanding the needs of its families and students, St. John Vianney Catholic School continues to strengthen and enrich its academic programs by offering Advanced Science and Math courses, diversified instruction, technologically appropriate communications, and campus renovations.
On Sunday, November 16th, the parishioners at St. John Vianney Catholic Church enjoyed a holy and joyful celebration of its' historic 60th Anniversary. The special celebratory Mass was conducted by Father John Blum, the residing pastor, joined by past priests and pastors of St. John Vianney.
Immediately following the Mass, hundreds of parishioner's enjoyed a ministry walk in Monsignor Trainor Hall, which showcased over a dozen ministries of the parish and historic photo's. The ministry walk then lead parishioners to an enjoyable pot luck picnic and fun outdoor activities for the children in the beautiful St. John Vianney Catholic School courtyard. It was a wonderful celebration of fellowship, reminiscing, and visions for the future for the young and old reunited and joined together for this special occasion.