103 Years of Excellence
Cathedral High School provides a holistic education encompassing spiritual, intellectual, social, emotional and physical growth, building on the same mission that established the Fighting Irish tradition since 1918. "While our immediate objective is to prepare students for college admission, our ultimate goal is to guide them toward being competent, concerned, responsible, and ethical members of society. Our students and our graduates are the best proof of our success," commented longtime principal Fr. Patrick J. Kelly before his passing in December of 2003.
Cathedral was founded as an all-boys Catholic high school on September 13, 1918, by Bishop Joseph Chartrand. Classes began for 90 students in temporary quarters on the second floor of Cathedral grade school at 13th and Pennsylvania. After a series of temporary relocations to accommodate a booming enrollment, Cathedral finally located in a new million-dollar school building at 14th and Meridian in 1927. This was Cathedral's home for the next 50 years.
By a unique arrangement, the Indianapolis Catholic Diocese owned Cathedral, but engaged the Holy Cross Brothers of Notre Dame to serve as faculty. The Brothers were an erudite teaching order who also served as faculty in a dozen schools throughout America. Under the Brothers of Holy Cross, Cathedral's reputation as an outstanding academic institution grew, and so did the enrollment. By the early 1950's, Cathedral was overflowing.
The Diocese decided to build an east side school, Scecina Memorial, to ease the overcrowding, and in the early 1960's also built Bishop Chatard High School on Kessler Boulevard. Cardinal Ritter was built on the west side a short time later.
In the meantime, the Diocese decided to turn over control of its downtown school, Cathedral, to the Holy Cross Brothers. From 1964 to 1972, the Brothers ran Cathedral as a private, independent school. One of the most significant results of "independence" was that Cathedral no longer received financial support from the church -- and that remains true today.
Because of declining enrollments and radically shifting population patterns to the suburbs, the Brothers were convinced by 1972 that the continued operation of Cathedral was not feasible. In October of that year, the Holy Cross Brothers announced Cathedral would close, effective June 1973.
A group of parents, alumni and friends rescued Cathedral by forming a non-profit organization to take over the school. Robert V. Welch, a 1945 Cathedral alumnus and prominent real estate developer, organized the Cathedral Trustees, Inc. and for the next 15 years served as its Board Chairman. In 1976, the Cathedral Trustees moved their school to the former site of Ladywood School (56th St. and Emerson Way), which had itself just been closed by the Sisters of Providence. In this year also, girls were included in the Cathedral student body for the first time. In 1988, 2004 and again in 2016, Cathedral was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a "School of Excellence."
Today, Cathedral is experiencing continued growth and popularity. There are approximately 1,200 students in Grades 9-12, and more than 100 faculty and staff members -- the majority of whom hold Masters degrees or higher. The school offers diverse co-curricular activities in academic, cultural and athletic disciplines. A full 100 percent of our graduating seniors are accepted to colleges and universities across the country, and receive scholarships and awards to the schools of their choice. Students hail from more than 100 different elementary and middle schools, and from 13 counties throughout central Indiana.
The Cathedral Trustees, Inc. Board of Directors operates the school, the members of which are elected by their fellow Trustees. The current Chair is Victoria Schneider '88 Temple. Cathedral's president is Robert Bridges, and the principal is Julie Barthel.
On September 13, 2018, Cathedral High School celebrated 100 years of educational service to young people in central Indiana.