History of St. Vincent School

In 1881, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School was founded by the Sisters of Holy Cross, thirteen years after St. Vincent de Paul Church became the first Catholic Church in Elkhart, Indiana, in 1868. The population of the school at that time was predominately German, which developed into a rich Italian population, and now, a vibrant Hispanic community.

Enrollment was at its peak in 1959 with 526 students. In 1971, the Sisters of Holy Cross left St. Vincent School. The high cost of replacing the Sisters with lay teachers created financial difficulties for the parish. The parish chose to keep the school open, but discontinued grades seven and eight. Despite these financial difficulties, the school persevered, adding kindergarten in 1977, preschool in 1993, a gym and parish center in 1996, and finally middle school once again in 2016.

There was a period of enrollment decline between 1998-2009, but due to a concentrated effort to reach out to the immigrant population, the numbers began to increase.   The initiation of the Indiana Choice Voucher program contributed to the trend, and currently, there are over 200 students in preschool through eighth grade. 

St. Vincent School has an excellent working relationship with her sister public-school community, Elkhart Community Schools. Benefits of this relationship include special education services, bus services, and extra-curricular athletics. Upon graduation, St. Vincent School students traditionally feed into three school systems (Concord, Elkhart, and the diocesan schools, Marian and St. Joseph). 

Everything done at St. Vincent School is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Identity of the school is very strong. In addition to Catholic Faith-based curriculum and prayer opportunities, students are introduced to stewardship as a way of life as early as kindergarten, as part of the school’s instruction as well as after-school programs such as the St. Vincent de Paul Club, where students are encouraged to model the service-driven lifestyle of St. Vincent de Paul.