Volk family photo
A 1937 group photo at St Agatha's: Mary Dorothy Wright (class of 1938) is in the front row - far right - with curly hair.  Thomas Patrick Volk (class of 1937), second to last row, dark sweater.
Volk family photo
A 1937 group photo at St Agatha's: Mary Dorothy Wright (class of 1938) is in the front row - far right - with curly hair.  Thomas Patrick Volk (class of 1937), second to last row, dark sweater.
Dorothy Wright Volk had no idea when she started first grade at St. Agatha School her future husband of 64 years would be sitting across from her.  He was in the second grade with her brother when the two grades shared a classroom in 1930.

And, she had no idea that the school, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, would play such a important role in her life.

"My husband Tom was a friend of my brother's and they stayed friends for many years. He never really talked to me during grade school or high school," said Volk, 85. "But, if he hadn't become my brother's friend at St. Agatha I would never have fallen in love with him after high school. I've always felt a connection with St. Agatha."

Volk married her husband in 1946 in St. Agatha Church. They have seven children and have been married 64 years.

One of the couple’s cherished keepsakes is a class photo from when Dorothy was in the seventh grade and Tom was in eighth grade.

St. Agatha Parish and School celebrate their 100th anniversary this coming year, 2011, with several special events. The celebration kicks off when the new lights on the church steeple are lit at 5 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 2 — bathing St. Agatha's bell tower in a glow of light that will be seen for miles around.

The community is invited to several events this coming year in celebration of the centennial anniversary.

Benedictine Father John Cumminsky and Sisters from Queen of Angels Monastery opened the parish and school building in 1911 with 60 parishioners. The chapel was on the second floor of the two-story building and the school was on the first. The school opened a year later in 1912 with 48 students that first year.

"Parishioners of Saint Agatha's have supported the parish and school through very challenging times, including today," said Benedictine Father Nathan Zodrow, parish administrator and retired abbot of Mount Angel Abbey. "This anniversary is the celebration of 100 years of profound faith in action."

In October 1920, a new church was built across the street to accommodate the growing school and parish. The Gothic-style church was built with tufa stone from Mt. Angel, cost $40,000 and featured art glass windows.

Today, that building is still a friendly, faith-filled home to more than 450 parishioners. 

In 2003, the original two-story church and school building was replaced by a modern, state-of-the-art building. Faith, learning and service are taught there to 187 children, preschool through eighth grade.

St. Agatha is a Western Catholic Educational Association accredited school.

On Saturday, Feb. 5, the school will open the doors to its latest addition, the Father Slider Steuernol Science and Technology Wing. The wing will feature the latest technology including 26 personal computers, interactive 3-D projectors that can display information directly from a computer screen, a 3-D visual presenter, lab equipment and benches.

Father Steuernol was a priest at St. Agatha for nine years, from 2001 until his unexpected death last year in June 2010. He was the only married Catholic priest to serve in the Archdiocese of Portland. 

The school will dedicate this new science and technology wing as a memorial to his commitment to the school's students and staff.

“We never forget his love for this parish and school. Father Slider gave so much of his time, energy and love of faith to our community. We truly miss him,” said Jeff Delegato, principal of St. Agatha School. 

For more information about upcoming events, log on to www.stagatha.us.