Parish and School History
St. Simon the Apostle Catholic School was founded in response to the need for Catholic education among a growing population in the current township of Green Park, Missouri. In 1959, under the leadership of Cardinal Ritter, land on Mueller Road in South St. Louis County was purchased from August Guehring. The land that once had been a tree nursery was to become the site of St. Simon the Apostle Parish and School. Reverend Louis Dierker was appointed pastor of the newly formed parish on April 7, 1959. During construction of the new church, the Lindbergh School District provided space for the worshipping community at Concord School beginning with the first Masses on June 21, 1959. The church was completed in August of 1960. There were 456 families registered in St. Simon the Apostle Parish at the time.
During the summer of 1959, the cornerstone was laid for the church and school, Father Dierker moved into the rectory on Jackie Lane (January 9, 1960) and plans were underway for the opening of St. Simon the Apostle Catholic School. Father Dierker received a commitment from the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, New York, to staff the school. Church construction was completed in August 1960. When the school opened its doors in September 1960, we had four Dominican sisters, nine lay teachers and the school was already too small for the 518 registered students. The school enrollment fluctuated with the changing birthrate.
Our men’s organization - Holy Name and our women’s organization – Madonna Guild, held their first meetings in the Fall of 1960. The church and school were dedicated December 3, 1961 while construction was in process for six additional classrooms. The St. Simon the Apostle Parish Council was formed in June 1970. The school enrollment grew to a maximum of 745 students during the 1964-1965 school year.
In June of 1972, Reverend Dierker resigned due to illness and Msgr. Thomas J. Woracek was appointed the second pastor effective June 6, 1972. Since the rectory on Jackie Lane was a private residence, groundbreaking for the new rectory was held in the Fall of 1972. In September of 1973, the Parish School of Religion was established. The parish continued to grow and in 1977 work began on a new church to meet the needs of the large worshipping community. The new church was completed and held the first Mass in the newly remodeled church on December 7, 1977 with dedication to the remodeled church on April 9, 1978.
In 1980 under the leadership of Sister Anne Simms and Msgr. Woracek, St. Simon the Apostle Parish entered into an agreement with Mary, Mother of the Church Parish to provide Catholic education for families who desired full time Catholic education for their children. The relationship between the two parishes flourished and is still in effect today.
As the parish celebrated its 25th anniversary on October 28, 1984, plans were developed to expand the physical plant by adding a gymnasium, kindergarten and library. Before this project was started, Monsignor Woracek was reassigned in June of 1985 and Father William B. Ahrens was appointed the third pastor of St. Simon the Apostle Parish. Father Ahrens continued to work with the parish council and with his support, the new wing of the school broke ground on December 14, 1986. St. Simon the Apostle Catholic School held the first Kindergarten class in September 1987. Dedication of the Monsignor Woracek Parish Center was held on January 17, 1988. This space is used as the gymnasium for the school. It is the gathering space for Home and School meetings, weekly bingo, sporting events, parish events and the eighth grade play.
The Dominican Sisters played a vital role in the education of the students of St. Simon the Apostle Catholic School until 1993. Some of the sisters remained in the convent, but did not teach in the school. The convent was closed in 1995 after the sisters decided to return to their motherhouse in Sparkill, New York. The convent’s remodeling was started in September 1995 and in 1996 an Early Childhood Center, named “Simon Says”, was established to provide care for infants and preschool age children, before and after-school care and summer camp, for families in the St. Simon the Apostle Parish community and surrounding area.
As the new millennium approached, the need to expand facilities again became apparent. A capital campaign was launched to build a new church capable of accommodating 800 worshippers at one Liturgy. Father Ahrens broke ground for the new church on September 24, 2000. The first Mass in the new church was held on March 17, 2002 with the dedication by Archbishop Justin Rigali on May 4, 2002. The old church was renovated into a space for school needs. Offices were expanded, additional classrooms, a health room, copy room and much needed storage areas were established. The computer lab was expanded. A music room, faculty lounge, and multipurpose room were constructed in this space as well. An area was created to house the after-school latchkey program that is sponsored by Simon Says Early Childhood Learning Center. The library was moved to the renovated church space so that a second Kindergarten room could be created. The establishment of renovated school space allowed programs to flourish within the school and have added depth to the school curriculum.
Father William Ahrens saw the completion of the expanded facilities before retiring in June of 2003. On June 23, 2003, Father Mark Ebert was appointed as the fourth pastor of St. Simon the Apostle Parish and was transferred in 2008. Father Erich Fechner was appointed as the fifth pastor of St. Simon the Apostle Parish on June 17, 2008. Father Bradley Modde was appointed as the sixth pastor of St. Simon the Apostle Parish on July 1, 2015.
The history of St. Simon the Apostle Parish, School and Early Chldhood Learning Center, has been one of zealous faith, loyal commitment and selfless generosity, much in keeping with the attributes of our patron Saint who watches over and protects us.
St. Simon the Apostle, pray for us