Saint Ambrose School was established on August 31, 1914 by Father Vincent Dever. The school was staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph and classrooms were located in the basement of the church on Broadway and Dock Streets. Thus began the tradition of academic excellence which continues today.
Fifty one girls and forty eight boys were enrolled in the school. The first commencement was held on Sunday, June 24, 1917, following the ten o'clock Mass. To Miss Frances Dalton and Miss Mildred Reiff belongs the honor of being the entire first graduating class.
In 1928, Father John J. Carr authorized the building of a school and an auditorium at 214 North Margaretta Street at a cost of $48,000. Classes continued on a small scale with only five students graduating as late as 1941. With an increase of enrollment in the late 1950s, Father Donohue reactivated two classrooms in the basement of the church on Dock Street.
Under the direction of Father Alfred Ott, a 14-acre tract of land off East Main Street in North Manheim Township was purchased in 1971. This land was to be utilized for the relocation of the church, school and rectory.
The first lay principal, Miss Mary Lou Casserly (Mrs. Michaels), was hired in 1985. Recognizing the need for a new school, Father Francis J. Schuster supervised the building of the present St. Ambrose School and adjacent parish center. On September 3, 1986, the school opened its doors and on September 14, 1986, it was dedicated by Bishop Thomas J. Welsh. Due to the changing role of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Saint Ambrose School began the 1987 school term with an all lay faculty. The school was accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools on October 23, 1992. Mrs. Anne B. Curry took over the position of Principal in August 2001. She, along with the members of Saint Ambrose Parish, have made a commitment to Catholic education for the students at St. Ambrose School. Mrs. Curry retired in July of 2012. Mr. Thomas Camise was the principal August 2012-2013. Mr. Thomas Camise and Dr. Mary Lou Michaels shared the principal position in 2013-2014. Mrs. Carol Boyer became the principal in 2015. She is our current principal.
Who was SAint Ambrose?
Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan in Italy from 364 to 397 A.D., is one of the four most illustrious fathers and doctors of the church. He, along with St. Augustine, St. Athanasius and St. John Chrysostom, hold The Chair of St. Peter,'' leader of the apostles, in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
He was born into an ancient noble family. His father, Ambrosius, ruled the present territories of France, Britain, Spain and part of Africa. He was well educated in law and was appointed by Emperor Valentinian as Governor of Liguria and Aemilia with residence in Milan.
When the Bishop of Milan, Auxentius, died in 374, Ambrose came to Milan to insure order and peace. So popular and loved was Ambrose, that the crowds shouted out "Ambrose, Bishop.'' At the time, he was only a catechumen or a beginner in the faith. At the age of 35, he was baptized and ordained a priest and on December 7, 374 A.D., he was consecrated Bishop of Milan. Thus, December 7 is the feast of Saint Ambrose in the church calendar.
He immediately divested himself of all his worldly goods and gave over all his personal property to the poor. He became famous for his piety and spirituality and as an eloquent preacher of Catholic doctrine. He was a great orator who attracted thousands to his sermons. Among them was a young man living a dissolute life, St. Augustine.
Saint Ambrose was famous for his writings for which he receives the title "Doctor or Teacher of the Church.'' He wrote more than six large volumes covering almost all facets of Christian Dogma. At an earlier date, he wrote the book "On Penance'' which gave evidence of the power of the church to forgive sins, the necessity of Confession and the meritorious character of good works. So well respected was Saint Ambrose that he was even able to make the Emperor Theodosius do pubic penance for the massacre of 7000 insurgents before he was admitted into the church for worship. Saint Ambrose was the originator of chant in the music of the church and he introduced the responsorial psalms between the readings. He wrote many hymns. Two of the most famous are "Veni, Creator Spiritus" or "Come, Holy Ghost" and the "Te Deum Laudamus" or "We Praise Thee O God."
Saint Ambrose died on Good Friday in the year 397. One of Saint Ambrose's successors as Bishop of Milan is Pope Paul VI who was Archbishop of Milan before being elected the Bishop of Rome and head of the Universal Church.