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‘A whole lot of faith, a whole lot of moxie’: Fenwick celebrates 90 years

Somewhere in its walls, the Rev. Richard Peddicord said, Fenwick High School has a plethora of stories to tell of its nearly 90-year history, rooted in education and teachings of the Catholic faith.

“You’ve heard the saying, of course, ‘if these stones could speak, or if these walls could speak, or if I had only been a fly on the wall,’” said Peddicord, Fenwick’s president. “I’d like to think about that as I think of Fenwick. ... If these walls could speak, [or] if these stones could tell us a story, what would they say?”

This message set the stage for many current students, alumni, faculty and staff at Fenwick High School celebrating its milestone Sunday during a Mass and reception.

“I think [the walls] would say, ‘those founding members of Fenwick had a whole of lot of faith, a whole lot of moxie, and a whole lot of gumption to start a high school right in the middle of Oak Park,’” Peddicord said. “Cardinal Mundelein wanted this building in Oak Park because there was a lot of anti-Catholic sentiment in those days. He wanted to make a statement that Catholics are as good as anybody.”

At its beginning, on Sept. 9, 1929, Fenwick opened its doors to 200 students and a staff of 11 Dominicans, according to the school. Since then, the school has grown in different ways.

Peddicord said Fenwick has a lot to celebrate.

“It’s wonderful to gather today, on this Sunday, looking back in one way at the foundation of the school 90 years ago almost and looking forward to our future,” Peddicord said.

Fenwick has amassed an alumni base over the years, making contributions in a number of areas in life, including public service and politics, arts, sciences and letters, business and industry, as well as athletics.

Carol Stream resident Greg Bouchonville, a graduate of Fenwick’s class of 1962, said that returning to his alma mater means a lot to him.

“It reminds me of when I was a kid,” he said. “It brought back memories I had as a teen. It was a pleasant time, and I had a lot of fun.”

Bouchonville said he likes seeing the way the campus and its physical makeup has evolved over time.

“They’ve added to it,” he said. “It’s more than double in size, and there’s more to come.”

The school is beginning to embark on a centennial campaign to improve its facilities, according to its website. Plans, if achieved, will expand and improve the campus.

The centennial campaign intends to raise funding to complete three phases of improvements, with an estimated timeframe extending in the years after 2020, right ahead of Fenwick’s centennial celebration in 2028-2029.

The Rev. James Marchionda, provincial of St. Albert the Great, said he wanted to thank the community and its leaders for their support of Fenwick.

“I congratulate us on 90 years, both the Province of St. Albert the Great and all the Dominicans and lay people who have served Fenwick for all these years,” he said. “I extend my tremendous, strong wishes and blessing for the continuation of ministry that is here.”


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