Providence Catholic High School

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Providence Catholic High School
Love ... Truth ... Unity
1800 West Lincoln Highway
New Lenox, Illinois, 60451
Coordinates 41°31′15″N 88°00′01″W / 41.5209°N 88.0002°W / 41.5209; -88.0002Coordinates: 41°31′15″N 88°00′01″W / 41.5209°N 88.0002°W / 41.5209; -88.0002
Type private secondary
Denomination Roman Catholic
Established 1880
Opened 1962 (current building)
Authority Diocese of Joliet
Oversight Order of Saint Augustine
President Fr. Richard McGrath, OSA
Principal Dr. John Harper
Teaching staff 63
Grades 912
Enrollment 1,114 (2013–2014 [3])
Campus type suburban
Color(s)      kelly green
Slogan Jesus Christ is the reason for our School
Athletics conference Chicago Catholic League
Team name Celtics
Accreditation North Central Association of Colleges and Schools[1]
Newspaper Proviscope
Yearbook Kelt
Tuition US$10,725[2]

Providence Catholic High School (often referred to as Providence, Provi, or abbreviated PCHS) is a Roman Catholic secondary school located in New Lenox, Illinois. Located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet, Providence Catholic is a private school run by the Order of Saint Augustine. The president of Providence is Father Richard McGrath, with Dr. John Harper as its principal.

Located on Lincoln Highway (also part of U.S. Highway 30), it is known as one of the few Catholic schools in Illinois that has a self–imposed enrollment limit.


Providence Catholic High School began as St. Mary Academy for Girls, a commercial school in Joliet, Illinois run by the Sisters of Loretto. The school opened in 1880, though the original building was not opened until 1883. Eventually, academic classes were added.[4]

In 1918, the Diocese of Joliet invited the Sisters of Providence to take over the school. On October 22 of that year, the school's name was changed to Providence High School. In 1931, the academic classes were stopped as the Great Depression took its toll on the school. In 1932, the school reverted to a two-year commercial school. A four-year secretarial program opened in 1938. Though the academic courses were reinstated after the Depression, the school building was condemned as a fire hazard in 1959 and demolished. From 1959 through 1962, the school met at St. Mary Nativity Church's parish school.[4] A popular story in the school community is that students would visit the site of the demolished school and scavenge undamaged bricks to sell in order to raise funds for a new school which was already in development.[5]

In 1962, the modern Providence High School was opened. The most obvious change was location: the school had left Joliet and was now located a few miles to the east in New Lenox. The other major change was the shift to a coed school. Though Providence was a relatively new school, the community of New Lenox was not heavily populated then. Enrollment dropped, and the school began suffering financially. Father Roger Kaffer (later Bishop Kaffer) was named the new principal and arrived in 1970. He began a campaign to improve the academic standing of the school and the transportation options for students traveling great distances. It was his practice to visit every family that had a child enrolled in the school. The 1971 enrollment was 490; by 1975, it had reached 785. Growth during the late 1970s and early 1980s made additions to the school building necessary.[5]

The Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel, the Midwest U.S. province of the Order of Saint Augustine, was invited by the diocese to take control of the school after the 1984–85 school year. A college preparatory curriculum was added, as was a refocus on the spiritual mission of the school. The religious studies course work was upgraded, and a retreat program was begun. The name of the school was changed to "Providence Catholic High School" in 1985 to reflect these changes. In 1998, the school decided to limit enrollment in order to retain a more personal atmosphere with students. Since 1998, the enrollment has hovered between 1,000 and 1,200.[5] As of the 2014-15 school year, longtime principal Mr. Don Sebestyen will be retiring.


Providence is a college preparatory school, and uses a weighted grading system.

The school offers eighteen Advanced Placement courses: English Language, English Literature, Statistics, Calculus (AB), Calculus (BC), Biology, U.S. History, U.S. Government & Politics, European History, Psychology, Spanish Language, Music Theory, Advanced Placement Computer Science and Studio Art.[6]

Student life[edit]


The school's band was involved in five national competitions centered around the annual Outback Bowl. In 2010 the concert and jazz bands each earned first place awards, and finished second in the parade and field show competitions.[7]


The Providence Celtics compete in two conferences. Men's teams compete in the Chicago Catholic League (CCL), while the women compete in the East Suburban Catholic Conference (ESCC). Providence competes in state tournaments sponsored by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA).

The school sponsors teams for men and women in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. Men may also compete in baseball, football and wrestling. Women may compete in cheerleading and softball. In 2014, the hockey team won their first ever Kennedy Cup against rival Benet Academy[8] . The Providence Catholic Baseball team won a state championship in 2014, bringing the high school a record 27-state championships. No other Catholic High School in Illinois has more.

The following teams have finished in the top four of their respective state tournament sponsored by the IHSA. This is a total of 46 top four finishes and 27 state titles:[9]

  • baseball: 2nd Place (2010–11); State Champions (1977–78, 81–82, 2013-14)
  • basketball (boys): 3rd place (1977–78); State Champions (1978–79)
  • cheerleading: 3rd place (2013-14); 2nd place (2006–07); State Champions (2012-13)
  • golf (girls): 4th place (1989–90, 90–91)
  • Ice hockey: White division State Champions 2009 JV State Champions 2010-11 Kennedy Cup Winners 2013-14
  • Pom-Poms: 3rd Place (2013–14)
  • soccer (boys): 2nd place (2002–03)
  • softball (girls): 3rd place (2011-2012)
  • track & field (boys): 2nd place (2012–13)
  • track & field (girls): 4th place (1981–82); 3rd place (1979–80); 2nd place (1980–81); State Champions (1977–78)
  • volleyball (boys): 4th place (2007–08)
  • volleyball (girls): 3rd place (1988–89)
  • golf (boys): 4th place (2014–15)

Providence Catholic Children's Academy[edit]

The school also houses the Providence Catholic Children's Academy, which is for ages 3–5. Three and four year olds may partake in half-day preschool classes, while five year olds may take full-day kindergarten.[10]

Notable alumni[edit]


External links[edit]