St. Raphael the Archangel School, founded in 1949, is a member of the Archdiocese of Louisville and is fully accredited through both the Kentucky Non-Public School Certification Process and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools through Advanc-ED. The school serves students in Pre-School through Grade Eight with a total student population near 300. Faculty and administration strive to model Gospel values in their daily interactions with students and other adults, and students learn about and practice the tenets of the Catholic faith. The academic program is very strong and has earned St. Raphael the distinction of being the first Catholic elementary school in the Louisville Archdiocese to be named a United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. It has since received that honor a second time and has been honored as an Intel and Scholastic School of Distinction, and a Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School.
In 1947, when St. Francis of Assisi parish had begun to burst at the seams, Archbishop John A. Floersh selected the Reverend Leo J. Sheeran to found a new parish for the Catholics of the upper Highlands area of Louisville. A large farmhouse on Bardstown Road became the gathering space for 250 families who immediately initiated plans to build a church and school. On the Feast of Saint Raphael, October 24, 1948, the first Mass was celebrated in the new building. Father Leo J. Sheeran was the first pastor. The Church was, at that time, located in what is now the school’s media center and the school was temporarily housed at St. Francis. In January of 1949 the construction was completed and furniture was moved from the temporary location at St. Francis, to the new building at St. Raphael. The school opened in 1949 under the direction of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, who continued to serve St. Raphael School until 1996. The first principal was Sister M. Theodora Breighner, O.S.U., and the first graduating class, in June of 1950, included 19 students. Archbishop John Alexander Floersh First Archbishop of Louisville
Rev. Leo J. Sheeran First Pastor of St. Raphael Parish Sister M. Theodora Breighner, O.S.U. First Principal of St. Raphael School
The First Graduating Class
The following article was written for the June 1950 edition of the school newsletter (The Raphaelite News) by a member of the school’s first graduating class, Cornelius “Buddy” Hubbuch (bottom row, fourth from left, in class photo): “We, the first graduating class of St. Raphael’s wish to express our sincerest gratitude for the spiritual, moral, and physical background we have acquired. We admit that frequently we have griped about going to school, but deep down in our hearts we are grateful for the opportunity which is ours to go to school. We can truly say that these past few years have been the happiest of our lives. We especially wish to thank Sister M. Theodora for giving us a background which one needs to succeed. We hope to grow up to be fine, young, Catholic citizens, and we are sure we shall with the good scholastic training we have received. We hope God will continue to shower His bountiful blessings on St. Raphael’s.” In reviewing the following excerpt from an article written by Sr. M. Theodora, we can see some of the reasons why the students credit her with providing “a background they need in order to succeed”. She was ahead of her time with her understanding of the need to help students learn by posing good questions and letting them work toward a creative solution, of developing a relationship and getting to know her students in order to help them reach their highest potential, and differentiating their instruction according to their individual needs. She was all about what St. Raphael is all about today: meeting students where they are and helping them get where they need to be. Because of this focus, our students with learning differences, as a group, start out with a gap in achievement at the beginning, as measured by their Terra Nova scores, but that gap is nearly closed by the time they reach graduation.
Archbishops, Pastors, and Principals
John Alexander Floersch 1937 – 1967
Thomas J. McDonough 1967 – 1982
Thomas C. Kelly 1982 – 2007
Joseph E. Kurtz 2007 – Present
Rev. Leo J. Sheeran 1947 – 1969 previously a military chaplain
Fr. James Meder 1969 – 1975 from St. Lawrence
Rev. Jim Hendricks 1975 – 1985 from St. Rita
Fr. Ted Sans 1985 – 1995 from Trinity High School
Fr. Kevin Bryan 1995 – 2000 from St. Francis of Assisi
Fr. Jim Hackett 2000 – 2010
Rev. Don Hill 2010 – 2016
Fr. Joe Graffis 2016 – 2017
Fr. Shayne Duvall 2017 – Present
Sr. M. Theodora Breighner 1948 – 1950
Sr. Moira Burke 1950 – 1952
Sr. Norberta Rickert 1952 – 1959
Sr. Moira Burke (returned) 1959 – 1962
Sr. Thecla Shiel 1962 – 1967
Sr. Conrad Mellon 1967 – 1969
Sr. Mary Victor Waller 1969 – 1972
Sr. Carmelita Grantz 1972 – 1975
Dr. Paul E. DeZarn 1975 – 2014
Ms. Jean Ann May, Interim 2015
Ms. Michelle Brandle 2015 – 2017
Mrs. Jill Tabor, 2017 – Present
Our patron Saint: St. Raphael the Archangel
The only place where Raphael is specifically named is in the Book of Tobit. When Tobias, who is blind, sends his son, who is also named Tobias on a journey to collect a debt, an angel who was calling himself Azarius, accompanied him on that journey. Young Tobias also took his dog as a companion on the trip. Along the way, a fish tried to bite Tobias’s foot and Azarius commanded him to catch the fish. He saved the heart, liver, and gall bladder because of their healing powers and they cleaned and ate the fish. When they stopped for the night on the first day of the trip, they stayed at the home of a relative, named Raquel, who had a daughter named Sarah. Azarius encouraged Tobias to marry Sarah but the young man was hesitant because she had been married seven times before and a demon had killed each of her husbands before the marriage was consummated. Azarius told Tobias to put the heart and liver of the fish on the incense fire and that if he did that, the demon would leave him alone and flee forever. Tobias did as Raphael instructed him. Azarius chased and caught the demon and bound him hand and foot. Azarius completed Tobias’s journey for him and returned to Tobias and Sarah. After the two week wedding feast, they returned to the elder Tobias’s home. At Azarius’s direction, the younger Tobias used the gall bladder of the fish they had caught to cure his father’s blindness. It was then that Azarius revealed his true nature: “Tobias, when you and Sarah prayed to the Lord, it was I who brought your prayers into his glorious presence… I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord, ready to serve Him.” Many scholars believe that Raphael is also the Angel of the Lord mentioned in some manuscripts of the gospel of John 1:1-4. That angel went into a pool and stirred up the water. The first person to enter the water after it had been stirred up was cured of whatever disease they suffered. Because Raphael was noted as being a healer, he is assumed to be that angel. Based on his actions in the Book of Tobit and the Gospel of John, St. Raphael is accounted patron of travelers, the blind, happy meetings, nurses, physicians, medical workers, matchmakers, Christian marriage, and Catholic studies. As a particular enemy of the devil, he was revered in Catholic Europe as a special protector of Catholic sailors. On July 8, 1497, when Vasco Da Gama set forth from Lisbon to sail to India, the flagship was named the St. Raphael. When the flotilla reached the Cape of Good Hope on October 22, the sailors disembarked and erected a column in the archangel’s honor. The little statue of St. Raphael that accompanied Da Gama on the voyage is now in the Naval Museum in Lisbon. Saint Raphael is also called the Angel of Science and Knowledge. He is often referred to as ‘Regent’ or ‘Angel of the Sun’. Because of his bright countenance and his sanguine and companionable treatment of Tobias, St. Raphael is considered the most sociable of the archangels; it is imagined that he has the best sense of humor and the happiest disposition. It is said that Raphael delights in bringing health and happiness everywhere he goes. He is sometimes pictured with a fish because of his use of fish gall to heal the elder Tobias of his blindness. He is the perfect patron saint for a Catholic school, where Catholic studies are of primary concern and knowledge is highly valued.
In recent history, a school logo was created in 2006 by a former student for a logo contest focused on the four core values of Faith, Community, Achievement and Leadership. In an effort to clarify the message, it was revised in 2009, but still maintained the same elements. Faith: As a Catholic School, Faith is obviously at the forefront of everything we do. We follow the Catholic (all are welcome) tradition by embracing families with a diversity of faiths, traditions, and cultures, but we are first and foremost, a Catholic school. Community: Our students are supported by a strong family-like community where the parish, school, and families work together to provide the best education possible and meet the varied needs of our school population. Achievement: The school has high expectations for its students in academics, service, relationships, and sports, while leaving a truly human margin for error. Students are helped to understand that failure is to be viewed as a learning experience and used to spur us on to greater heights. Show your “grit” and never give up! Persistence is one of the most important characteristics of successful, happy people. Leadership: Leaders stand up for what is right, even if they stand alone. They are aware of the needs of others and work to meet those needs. Good leaders are not concerned with “being in charge” and “being the boss”. They are focused on the good of the individual and the good of the community. They help others grow and learn as children of God.
The R logo was created to represent the whole community of St. Raphael the Archangel in a simple, easily remembered, form that still conveys our Catholic identity.
What makes us special? St. Raphael is formed in FAITH: Catholic students live their faith. The students are active in the Church, participate in service to others and are able to articulate their Christian values, form convictions and sustain them. St. Raphael is supported by COMMUNITY: Students are understanding of others. Students come to understand similarities between people(s) and to celebrate differences, recognizing the ways in which we need and depend on one another. They continue to grow in respect of others and they are respected by other members of the learning community. St. Raphael is motivated for ACHIEVEMENT: Students are prepared for the future. Students learn to access information appropriately and efficiently, they perform well academically during their elementary school years, and are ready to meet the challenges of high school. Students are responsible in doing what is expected and putting forth their best effort in work, play, and service. St. Raphael is inspired toward LEADERSHIP: Students are self-aware. Students continually work to become self-disciplined, are able to evaluate their own performance and are capable of setting and reaching realistic goals. They learn to stand up for what is right even if they stand alone. They recognize the needs of others and are willing to be inconvenienced for the greater good.
Our Philosophy, Vision, Mission, and Faculty Mission Statements: PHILOSOPHY OF ST. RAPHAEL SCHOOL The primary and ultimate purpose for the existence of St. Raphael School is to assist parents in fulfilling their role of educating their children with a quality Catholic education. St. Raphael School is a learning community organized to foster the spiritual, moral, intellectual, social, emotional and physical growth of its members in a spirit of peace, dedication, freedom and love that is based on the Gospel message.
VISION STATEMENT St. Raphael School will be an exemplary school, worthy of the Gospel, with Christ as its vision, embracing families with a diversity of faiths, traditions, and cultures.
MISSION: At St. Raphael the Archangel School, it is our Mission to be a faith-filled, Catholic community serving God, families and children by instilling the core values of FAITH, COMMUNITY, ACHIEVEMENT and LEADERSHIP.
FACULTY MISSION STATEMENT We prepare our students to live productive and moral lives as self-directed, lifelong learners, with a strong foundation for future success, by providing quality instruction in a friendly and caring environment.
Our Mascot: The St. Raphael Giant, Leahpar (Raphael spelled backwards) Giants are leaders among men, they are strong and fierce, and while they may be gentle, they can also be depended upon to fight for what is right.
Statue of St. Raphael the Archangel: A Statue of our patron saint, St. Raphael, is located on the Lancashire Street side of the Church.
Memorial Bench: Between the Church and the Sheeran Center, is a memorial bench made of bricks purchased in honor of, or in memory of, people important to the members of the school and parish. It is a quiet place to sit and think about those who are important in our lives and reflect on our own lives and service to our Faith.
Contemplative garden area: There is a statue of Mary and a bench in the landscaped area around the walkway between the school and the Sheeran Center. It is a wonderful place to take a breath and say a prayer during the day.
The Sheeran Center: This building was constructed to house the gym and cafeteria, as well as meeting rooms for the parish. The present Media Center was originally the Church and then became the gym, until the Sheeran Center was built. The former cafeteria was located on the bottom floor of the school and was then remodeled into the present art and Spanish classrooms. The Sheeran Center was named after the first pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel, Rev. Leo J. Sheeran. It is located on the former site of the Ursuline convent, the home of the sisters who taught at the school. The convent was known for a time as the Emmaus Center.
The Playground Tree: There was a beautiful tree on the grounds that the parking lot was built around. The old tree had made it through many years of severe storms. The former principal, Dr. D, would sit in the tree and throw down treats to the students when they had met a special challenge such as bringing in donations for charity or raising funds for a special project. Students sat around the tree to talk at lunchtime. Parents and students used it to shield them from the heat when coming to sports practices. When it was downed by a major storm several years ago, we learned just how many fond memories people had of the tree. They shared many stories of those memories, especially of “Dr. ‘D’ in the tree”, and asked that the tree not just be removed, but instead be replaced. A new tree was planted, and the scouts built a bench to surround it, so that future generations could continue to enjoy the spot that held so many good memories for past generations.
Imagery in the school
Picture of St. Raphael: To your left, as you enter the school office from outside, there is a picture of St. Raphael the Archangel, in honor of our patron saint.
Statue of Jesus with Children: Also located in the school office is a statue of Jesus with children, to remind us of our mission to minister to the children in our care. Statue of Mary: In the stairwell outside the school office is a large statue of the Virgin Mary. As the mother of Jesus, she reminds us that as teachers, we act “in loco parentis” (in place of parents) during the school day. We have a special responsibility to keep our students safe, help the parents bring them up in the Faith, and teach them to say “yes” to God.
Collage-style painting: The large painting on the back wall of the Media Center was commissioned to be done soon after the renovations in that area were completed. The artist used photos of students and teachers who were in attendance at the time and incorporated many ideas that highlight our Mission and Catholic Identity. Scenes depicted include: students receiving help in small reading groups, computer assisted instruction, participation in sports, music, and other classes, studying, testing, parent involvement, and much more.
Time Capsule: In the Media Center, there is a stone time capsule to be opened on October 24, 2022. The capsule was created with the help of our then art teacher, Mr. Shayne Hull. Each side represents one of the four core values of the school: Faith, Community, Achievement, Leadership. Every student either wrote a note of advice to themselves or made a prediction for the future and the teacher put them in a bag. Each class was invited to include an item, or picture of an item, that was popular in January 2012 (when the capsule was sealed). Parents and teachers were also encouraged to put in a note. When it is opened in 2022, those who placed items in the capsule, and attend the opening ceremony, will be able to get that item back to see if their advice or prediction for the future was good. We will see if the popular items have stood the test of time or if they have fallen out of favor.
Crucifix, prayer table, photo of the Pope: Every room contains a crucifix, statue of Mary, and a prayer table to remind us daily, and in all situations, that our main reason for existence is to promote the Faith and act for the greater glory of God. Some areas contain other reminders that we are a Catholic school: posters, photos, bulletin boards, and other statues.
House Flags: In grades 6 through 8, students are in homerooms that are made up of a mixture of 6 th, 7th, and 8th grade students. These homerooms are called “Houses”. St. Raphael patterned this after the Harry Potter books and a similar program at Trinity High School. The idea was shared with others in the Archdiocese and at national forums. Each house stays together throughout their time in middle school and becomes a family with the same classmates (siblings), the same House Mentor (parent), the same Patron Saint (charism), and the same motto and mascot (values and traditions).
The overarching “House’ is the school itself, Raphael House whose motto is Ambulantes cum Magistro Maximo: Walking with The Greatest Teacher.
Christopher, St. Christopher, Albatross, Vita Est Iter: Life is a Journey
Francis, St. Francis of Assisi, Hornet, Bonus Est Summa Larorum Parvorum: Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out
George, St. George, Dragon, Facite Praesidium Forte Fide: Make a Strong Defense of Faith
Joseph, St. Joseph, Blue Jay, Pro Laboribus: For Those Who Labor
Seton, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Panther, Ministerium Aliorum: Service to Others
Tekakwitha, St. Tekakwitha, Wolf, Volate in Alis Vestris: Fly on Your Own Wings
St. Christopher was said to be of significant stature, very large and strong, a “giant” by some accounts. The mythology surrounding him says that he was given the job of walking people across a stream where the current was very strong and many had died trying to cross. He carried a child across who seemed to become heavier with each step. When he asked why that was so, the child told him that he was the Christ and that he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Christopher’s name means Christ-bearer.
St. Francis of Assisi is patron saint of animals, merchants, and ecology. Francis saw all of creation as a part of a grand whole and animals and all living things were his brothers. He lived a life of extreme poverty, once he accepted God, renouncing the wealth of his family. Those without possessions cannot be robbed, those without the need for acclaim cannot be hurt or humiliated by the words of others. Those who have nothing are free.
St. George was a Catholic soldier and a defender of the faith. He was put to death because he would not denounce God and worship Roman gods. He converted an entire town by slaying the dragon (perhaps an alligator) that killed people when they approached the water.
St. Joseph is the patron saint of families and workers, a compassionate and caring man, who married Mary and helped raise Jesus. It is thought he died before Jesus began his public ministry as he is not mentioned as being present at any of the events during that time. As a hard-working carpenter, he taught his trade to Jesus. While he lived a simple life, he was a descendant of King David.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was no stranger to hardship and heartache. She married and had several children, but her husband died and she was left to raise the children on her own. She suffered through the death of some of her children and eventually joined the Catholic Church where she found solace from her pain. She and a couple of friends founded the Sisters of Charity and she opened the first free Catholic school in America.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American saint. She is patron saint of the environment and ecologists. Kateri, or Catherine, contracted small pox and was horribly scarred by the disease. It is said that upon her death, the scars immediately disappeared and she was again made beautiful. Several miracles of healing are attributed to her. She worked hard to try to convert her tribe, the Algonquins, to Christianity.
Morning Prayer: Morning prayer puts us in the presence of God so that our day is offered up for Him. Once the morning bell rings, the principal leads the entire school in prayer, followed by the pledge of allegiance, and the student Honor Code/Offertory Prayer: “As a St. Raphael Student, I will show respect for all things, for myself, and for others at all times. I will contribute to the learning environment. I will follow school and classroom procedures. I will show integrity and honor in all my accomplishments. I will treat everyone I meet with kindness, and help others to grow in love as a child of God.”
Virtues In Practice Assemblies: Classes and the administration take turns preparing a weekly lesson to guide discussion and provide a focus for learning about Catholic-christian values. They may revolve around the four core values, special events or feasts in the liturgical calendar or seasons of the Church year, or other themes like service or compassion. This a way for all of us to be “on the same page” so students hear about a particular idea numerous times during the week from all their teachers. All teachers are “religion” teachers in this way.
Teacher of the Year Award: The teacher of the year, nominated by parents, teachers, and students, and selected by the faculty and administration the previous May is honored at a Value Session at the opening of the school year. There is a plaque outside the school office with nameplates bearing the names of previous winners. We look for qualities we want all our teachers to possess and honor them for their outstanding demonstration of those qualities. Founder’s Day Celebration: Founder’s Day for the parish is celebrated on or around October 24 each year. Benchmark years occur when the date ends in a 7. 70 years = 2017, 80 years = 2027, etc. Annual celebrations may include an article in the newsletter, a photo or two of days past, and a Mass or Value Session. Benchmark years are usually celebrated more formally with visits from former principals, pastors, teachers, and a special treat for teachers and students. First Eucharist Bread Making: Along with completing their White Books, second grade students participate in a bread making activity in preparation for their first Eucharist. Later in the year, they prepare and assist with the May Crowning.
Distinguished Graduate Award: Every year during Catholic Schools Week, St. Raphael honors a distinguished graduate. Nominations are solicited from faculty, parents, and parish members at large. They must demonstrate the core values of the school by showing a continuing commitment to their faith, had an impact on the community or the world, achieved something commendable. and served as an example of leadership.
Holy Week Services: During Holy Week, the 7th grade prepares the Value Session lesson, teaching everyone about the coming week leading up to Easter. The 8th grade provides the Holy Thursday service in which they portray the events of the Last Supper. The 6th grade ends the week with a Passion Play at the end of the day on Good Friday. Students leave the Passion Play in silence and dismissal is conducted in silence as well. We do this in honor of the past time in our Church when we held silence from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. during the time Jesus hung on the cross before he died. We remember His sacrifice and think about the smaller sacrifices we can make to help others.
Passing of Leadership: There is a Passing of Leadership assembly near the end of the school year in which the 8th graders pass the torch of leadership to the present 7th graders. They challenge the upcoming 8th graders to be living examples of leadership for the younger students and to lead them in positive ways. At this value session, the Teacher Leadership Awards are also presented to teachers who demonstrated outstanding leadership during the course of the school year. It may be someone who saw a need and stepped up to fill that need; it may be someone who worked hard to help new teachers. The teachers are nominated and selected by their peers in a voting process.
Mass to Pray for the Graduates: The last Mass that 8th graders attend is traditionally a Mass to Pray for the Graduates. It is an all-school liturgy and parents are invited to pray that our graduates will have a successful high school experience, and will remember that we care for them and are willing to support them into the future.
Graduation Prep Day: This is a busy day used to practice for the graduation ceremony, enjoy a final activity with their little buddies in 2nd grade (they have been paired with them since the little ones were in Kindergarten), play a volleyball game with the faculty, pack up their classrooms, read and sign each other’s memory books (letters from the faculty and administration, blurbs written by each student, photos, and autograph pages), and have lunch together one last time in the Raphael Room. As they leave at the end of the day we have a “clap out” event in which everyone in the school stands in the halls and applauds for them as they make the circuit and exit the building.
DWP Awards and Goodbyes: On the last full day of school, after the 8th grade has already graduated, there is an award ceremony for grades K – 7. Students at each grade level (one boy and one girl from each homeroom) receive awards for having demonstrated the school’s discipline expectations (DWP skills) to an outstanding degree. Those students who will not be returning for the next school year are recognized and teacher who are moving on to another situation receive a gift.