Memories Abound at Madonna Gathering
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
September 14, 2023
AURORA—Alumni from many Madonna High School classes gathered Sept. 10 to pray, reconnect and remember the ups and downs of their years at the school.
The all-class reunion was held at Aurora Central Catholic High School, which in 1968 replaced both Madonna (all girls) and Roncalli (all boys) high schools, merging the two one-sex schools into a coed central Catholic high school. 
First housed in the Roncalli and Madonna buildings on the near east side of Aurora, in 1995 Aurora Central was relocated in a new building at Edgelawn Drive and West Indian Trail on the far west side of town.
It was there that the reunion began with Mass in the school’s chapel with celebrant, Benedictine Father Vincent Bataille. The Marmion Abbey priest got people chuckling and nodding as he read through a list of some Madonna sister-teachers. Remarks overheard included a thought that one sister should have been in the military, and yet she was “tough, but good.” Many other sounds of approval were expressed as the names were read along with what classes each sister had taught.
Then came a name that was met with puzzled silence — until Father Vincent noted she had been the baker and the one who made doughnuts for the school. Those were happily remembered by everyone.
In his homily, Father Vincent noted Madonna’s connection with Marmion, with after school gatherings, dances and shared theatrical productions that allowed the students to mingle. And some of you, the priest teased, married some of our students — a remark that was met with laughter.
Following the Mass, participants walked to a large room for treats and a lot of talking. An exercise where members of the various classes raised their hands showed that class members from nearly all of the 1950s and 1960s were present along with a few women who became ACC graduates after starting high school at Madonna.
At Madonna High School, girls took on leadership roles which, at the time, was unusual. Those leadership skills learned are said by many to be reflected in the work and accomplishments of Madonna graduates over the years.
For example, in 2016, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner wrote about the school, his wife’s alma mater, for the 1966 Class’s 50th reunion. “There are hundreds, if not thousands ... of Madonna graduates who have made Aurora, the Fox Valley and the rest of the world a better place,” he said.
A Connected History
Madonna High School was begun when Bishop Peter J. Muldoon, the first bishop of the Diocese of Rockford, met in late 1923 with Aurora parish leaders to expand Catholic education in the area.
Those meetings led to two schools: the all-girls Madonna High School run by the School Sisters of St. Francis and the all-boys Fox River Valley Catholic High School — run first by Augustinian priests, then in 1933 by Benedictine monks. In 1935 the boys’ school became Marmion Military Academy — now Marmion Academy.
Decades later in 1962, ground was broken for the diocese’s all-boys Roncalli High School, run by the Christian Brothers. When the Christian Brothers announced their departure, Roncalli and Madonna were merged into Aurora Central Catholic High School in 1968.
Still a Place of Learning
The Madonna building still stands, a stone sentinel at the corner of Root St. and College Ave., with “Madonna Catholic High School” carved in the archway above the front door. The building now houses the Fred Rodgers Magnet Academy where around 300 students study in grades 6-8. FRMA opened in 2008. Before that, the building was a city community center for youth programs.
Aurora is known as the “City of Lights.” Madonna Catholic High School, its staff and alumni truly have been some of those brightly shining lights.
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