St. Joseph Academy Celebrating 150th Anniversary
BROWNSVILLE – St. Joseph Academy in Brownsville is celebrating its 150th anniversary. An exhibit at the Brownsville Historic Museum is showcasing the school’s history.
When Oblate priests founded the academy, it was a private all-male Catholic elementary campus. “When we graduated in May of 1971, we were the last class to leave as an all-male school. That following fall, they let in girls at the 7th, 8th and 9th grade,” said Fr. Amador Garza, a St. Joseph Academy alumnus.
Before he attended the academy, his father also graduated from the school in 1948. Fr. Garza is now the rector at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle. He said he still meets with his fellow graduates.
"Eight of us gather for lunch every Tuesday in Brownsville... The St. Joe Mafia as they call us,” Fr. Garza said
Gene Fernandez, another St. Joseph graduate, said he carries a reminder of his time at the school with him everywhere. “You see the scar on… the top of my hand here. That's where that ruler hit me so often."
"There was discipline. Very definitely, there was discipline,” he told us. “We were mindful. We sat in our desks. We paid attention."
Most of the school's students come from Cameron County and Matamoros. “It's a wonderful environment to teach at - the kids, the faculty, the family spirit that exists with the faculty,” said Brother Francis Garza, one of the academy’s instructors.
He teaches religion at St. Joseph Academy and is a member of the Marist brothers.
Michael Motyl, the president of St. Joseph Academy, said the school requires each student do some type of community service. "We have over 500 students, and they are preparing to enter the real world and give back to the communities,” he said.
The exhibit about the academy will be on display at least through the first week in January.
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