Our History

Roman Catholicism had its early beginnings in Madison about the time the city was founded in 1880.  Catholic missionaries visited periodically before a resident pastor was assigned.  Among them were Father John Brogan and Father S.S. Mattingly.  Father Thomas Flynn, the first resident pastor, was the actual founder of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, which he named after his patron saint.

Father Flynn came to the Territory as a young seminarian from Milwaukee, WI, and was ordained by Bishop Marty as one of the first priests of the Territory.  During his 45 years here, he received the title of Monsignor and Protonotary Apostolic.  He served as Vicar General of the Diocese under Bishop O'Gorman.

Father E.J. Egan then came to St. Thomas.  Shortly after his arrival, he began laying plans for the establishment of a parish school.  In the fall of 1928, a modern brick building costing $100,000 was built.  A home for the Presentation Sisters who staffed the school was also provided.  The school was dedicated in May of 1929.   Eight grades had been taught the first year and then beginning in the Fall of 1929, a year of high school was added each year until there was a complete 12 year program.  May 19, 1933 saw graduation ceremonies for the first graduating class with 11 members.  

Father J.M. Reuter of Colman was transferred to Madison where he remained for 16 years.  Following the scarcity of WWII, Father Reuter did much to improve and expand church property.  He lifted the $80,000 debt against the school.  The high school was eliminated and the second floor redesigned to accommodate the Sisters. Father Reuter acquired the entire block where the church and school are located.  He initiated the construction of the Rec Center at Lake Herman.  The cemetery was expanded and the Convent plans were started before Father Reuter left.  In 1960 Father William Schmitt became pastor.  During his tenure, which lasted until 1969, he built the rectory at a cost of $100,000.  The convent was completed as well.  Father Reuter was named monsignor while he was here.  Father John F. Mulkern was pastor from 1969 until 1971 and was followed by Father Paul Bachman who remained for seven and a half years.  The sixth pastor to serve St. Thomas was Father Hal Barber who became pastor in March, 1978.

A kindergarten was added in 1978 and the class was held in the convent, across from the school.  In 1981, the 7th and 8th graders were discontinued and the kindergarten was moved into the school proper.  

In 1994, a preschool program was added to the school.  This feeder program has proved very successful and popular with parents.  1994 also saw the last Presentation Sister on staff.  The school is now staffed entirely by lay persons. 

In 1997, the old rust colored stage curtain was replaced with a new flame retardant, STS green curtain.  The KC's helped with the removal of the old and placement of the new curtain.

The popular preschool program outgrew it's facilities  in the school, and in 2000 the program as moved to the newly renovated Parish Center.  This allowed growth in the program and in 2001 a class for three years olds was added. 

The 2003-04 school year saw the addition of a security gated fence around the playground/parking lot and a new roof on the school building.  Over the summer the gym will be renovated with a new ceiling and lighting and with new lighting placed in all of the classrooms.