Chicago Madonna Catholic H.S. “Marauders”

Madonna High School
A picture containing outdoor

Description automatically generated
Courtesy of “A History of Offices, Agencies, & Institutions in the Archdiocese of Chicago”

                         The History of Chicago Madonna High School

Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in far northeastern Illinois in the center of Cook County. The town became a vital hub for transportation and industry in the mid-1800s. Its location on the banks of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River gave it access to the early transportation mode of the day; water. Chicago has utilized the lake and its early growth to become one of the most prominent cities in the world. O’Hare Airport is one of the world’s busiest. Several major highways and Illinois Routes lead you to and from Chicago as well.

Chicago also became a very ethnically diverse area in the early days and has remained so even today. The Catholic religion has always played a major role in Chicago’s history. As you can tell by the number of former Catholic High Schools on the Glory Days site, the Catholic religion led to the development of several high schools in Chicago’s many neighborhoods. One of these such schools was Madonna High School.

According an article found at the web address of,

Madonna High School was established as an all-girls school in 1949 at St. Joseph’s Home on North Hamlin Avenue. Two years later, the school moved into the former Ephpheta School for the Deaf building, which was renovated into a day and boarding school.

Following construction of a new school, it was located at 4035 W. Belmont in Chicago (also known as the corner of Belmont and Karlov). A catholic archdiocesean report on closed high schools in the Chicago area states that Madonna was open from 1949-2001.

The school originally began accepting both day and boarding students. The article listed above states that Madonna High School had a peak enrollment of over 1.200 students in the 1970s. By the time it closed in 2001, enrollment had dipped to around 240.

Further information regarding Madonna High School was provided to us by Julie Bronski, Alumnae Association President of Madonna HS.

“Just to give you some information on Madonna High School that is missing from your site:

* The HS originally stood on Ridgeway Avenue (approximately 2500N) and when the school population outgrew that bldg, it stood on the corner of Belmont & Pulaski. The original bldg became St. Joseph’s Nursing Home.

* In the late 60’s/early 70’s, a new school was built that used originally the address of 3155 N. Karlov. The address was eventually changed to 4035 W. Belmont.

* The school was knocked down in late 2001/early 2002 and the Franciscan Sisters built a new St. Joseph’s Home and Assisted Living Center to replace the one on Ridgeway.”

The Madonna High School alumnae base is still going strong. A website for the Madonna High School Alumnae Association is located at the web address of You can contact the web master of the site, Julie Bronski, at the following e-mail address: .

Madonna High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                          1949

Year closed:                           2001

Madonna HS team nickname:   the “Marauders”

Madonna HS team colors:        Blue & White

Madonna HS fight song:           “Go Madonna”

Lyrics provided by Jeanne (Mangelsdorf) Doherty


                                              Raise your banners and let them wave free
Over our team we’ll shout victory
Never doubting or with hopes astray
We know this will be our day

Do you hear us go Madonna!

Face your team with full-fledged faith and trust
To win this game is a must
Shine clean and let your good name beam
Right now for our Madonna team

Rah! Rah! Rah!

The actual school song, not used for athletics, was provided to us by Jeanne (Mangelsdorf) Doherty. She tells us that Sister Lucretia taught this song to the girls.

                                               Madonna, Madonna, Dear Mother we love
Our teacher, our queen and our guide.


                                               Madonna, Madonna, with light from above
Direct us who walk at your side.

The virtues that crown you, we happily wear
Your lessons are life’s greatest part!

We bless you, address you, as Mother most Fair
Madonna dear Queen of our hearts, Hail!

Ephpheta School/Also home to Madonna HS

Description automatically generated
Credit: Lake County Discovery Museum/Curt Teich Postcard Archives

We know that the Madonna High School athletic program offered the sports of Basketball, Cross-Country, and Volleyball. It is possible that other sports such as softball and track were offered as well. This information is needed. Also needed are the coach’s names and team records of Madonna High School.


The ladies of the hardwood court faired well in this sport. The teams of 1987-88 and 1995-96 both won Regional titles in the IHSA Class ‘AA’ State Basketball Tournament. School records and coach’s names of these and other great Madonna HS teams are needed.

1987-88AA       Regional Champions
1995-96AA       Regional Champions


One harrier carried the torch for the Madonna High School Cross-Country program. Melissa Matthews earned an EIGHTH Place medal at the IHSA State Cross Country Meet in the 1996-97 season!

1996-97      Melissa Matthews       8TH Place


The netters of 1988-89 brought home some IHSA hardware. This team won the school’s second of three Regional Titles during the 1988-89 season!

1988-89AA     Regional Champions

**From Mary Hafner (Former Teacher and Athletic Director):

“I was a teacher, athletic director and coach, and administrator  for 1970 to 1996 and I think I could probably share some information about the athletics and some other innovative programs with you should you wish to go any farther with the article.

Madonna was named a Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education–the year ???, this is a huge honor for a school to this day.

Here are a few things off the top of my head…Athletics-wise–Basketball, volleyball, softball, track and field, bowling, gymnastics, tennis, cross country were all included–often on the varsity, junior varsity and freshmen levels.  Madonna was a member of the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference which they joined in 1975 and continued active participation to the end.   Between 75 and 96 there were IHSA regional titles in both basketball (maybe 2) and volleyball (1) in addition to consistent high finishes in numerous sports in various divisions of GCAC.  Prior to that time, Madonna participated in CYO for volleyball and AAU basketball.  They won city titles in the early 70s. During that time, the mayor’s office often held tournaments in volleyball, basketball and track.  Madonna won the city track championship in 1975. There are a number of premier athletes from Madonna:

Mary McGrath ’70 played on the Pan American Volleyball team,

Jeannette Hauser Pancratz ’71 attended DePaul, coached gymnastics and volleyball at Resurrection HS, and continues to coach at Schaumburg HS and is one of the winningest coaches in IHSA,

Carol Lukaszewicz ’79 played four sports and was a GCAC champion in tennis,

Renee Duckman ’85 played three sports and attended Northwestern University on a full volleyball scholarship,

Shelly Pease ’88 (an athlete in volleyball, gymnastics, and track) attended Jacksonville University on a volleyball scholarship and went on to coach state championship level teams in the state of Virginia.

–Her sister Wendy Pease ’81 was the first state finalist from Madonna in any sport.  She ran in the 1980 and 81 state finals in the 100 Meter Hurdles.  Not bad for learning the sport in the parking lot!

–Another three sport athlete, Karen Krzeminski ran in the 1986 state finals in the 400 Meter event.

Beth Miller ’89, attended Carolina Coastal University on a volleyball scholarship.

Bernadette LaRocco ’77 played softball for the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Carla Knorowski ’77 also played softball for the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She is a former administrator of UIC, Northeastern Illinois University and is the current CEO of the Lincoln Foundation in Springfield (I may not have the exact name of that).

Terri Sullivan ’88, a three sport athlete in volleyball, basketball, and softball, attended Loyola University on a softball scholarship and proved to be an outstanding college player. She coached at UIC and was named as the first coach of the the University of Illinois (Champaign) softball program.  As the first and only Illini coach, she built the program into a Big Ten and national powerhouse. She has done this for about 10 years and continues at Illinois at the current time.

As you can see, there is so much history and your account scratches the surface.  I am currently a school principal so it is not possible to drop everything to piece together who coached what and when and what was the record. I would be glad to help you out if possible.  I can be reached via email at or

–Another graduate:  Nancy Schuster Waites ’71 currently a judge in Lake County.She is a DePaul graduate and taught history at Resurrection and Madonna prior to obtaining her law degree.  There are so many teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers and other professionals who came through Madonna and received a well-rounded academic program allowing them to pursue the careers of their choice.

If you want to know about the hey day of high schools, the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference was founded in 1974 when 11 schools wanted to provide competition for girls after the passing of Title IX. At its hey day, the GCAC organized activities for 38 schools.

Good luck with your undertaking.”

**From Lori C Fontechia (Waz):

“I attended Madonna from 1965-1969; it was the best school high school for girls in the area.  At least in my opinion.  You began your academic career in the Freshman building ; I had Sister Lucretia for homeroom.  Sister Hugoline was our principal.  Always remember when walking the halls from class to class if you met one of the sisters you had to make sure you said; Blessed Be Jesus Christ; Good /Afternoon Sister.  Running from the Freshman building to the new building; first time over the walk way ; you didn’t want to look down.  You had those 5 min to  make it to class and you better be on time; especially if you had Sister Alvernia for biology.

I remember my senior year of having Sister Kingnetta for homeroom; she was the greatest;  what a sense of humor and a passion for her teaching and understanding what it was like to be 17 in that time era.

I was sad to see Madonna close; so many great memories and so many happy times were spent there.  In reading over what some of the uniforms were like in later years; we did well.  Our freshman and sophomore uniform was an A-line skirt in dark navy and a vest with a white long sleeve blouse.  Peter pan collar of course.  Senior year was the same style but in a light shade of blue.

Sister Dorothy and her drama club; we all would go to the try outs in hope of making it to the stage for at least one play.  I was lucky to be in  one ;  The King and I.  And our debutante balls with our Dads is a memory that will be with me forever.

To all my fellow classmates from the graduating year of 1969; I wish you all peace and joy.  Go Madonna!”

**From Yolie Pauda:

“I went to Madonna High School in 1985. Although I only went for half a year (tuition was too expensive for my dad after losing his job), I had loads of fun! I remember having to sell those $20.00 calendars for a raffle. I also remember the uniforms:

Freshman:  Wine colored sweater with dark grey and wine plaid skirt.

Sophomore:   Rust orange sweater with brown and orange plaid skirt.

Junior:   Dark grey sweater with dark grey plaid skirt.

Senior:   Baby blue sweater with baby blue and grey skirt.”

**From Jeanne (Mangelsdorf) Doherty (Class of 1973):

“During my time there, the old building was connected to the new building with a long indoors overpass. The nuns that taught there and some retired nuns also resided in the upper floors of the old building. There were a couple of tennis courts on the grounds of the old building – they were usable but not really taken care of well. The old building was where the closed down Jewel Food store is now.”

**From Rosalinda Quintana:

“That old building was called the “Freshman Building” and I gotta tell ya, it was great!  It had so many nooks and crannies for uks to talk to each other about whatever! We were the last freshmen class there, the class of 1976. I gotta tell you a secret, on the top floor was where the nuns slept. The big cross where whoever slept (maybe Sister Joseph!!!). I paid good money to see that!! Does anyone else remember??”

**From Monica Orchard (Class of 1991)

“I attended Madonna 1987-1991.  Mr.Richard Bania coached track and field those years and I think freshman volley ball. Mrs. MacNamara coached gymnastics.”


Two of Madonna’s former students are actresses Marilu Henner (from Taxi and Evening Shade) and Mary Gross (formerly of Saturday Night Live–her brother is Michael Gross, who was the father in the ’80’s sitcom, Family Ties which starred Michael J. Fox). 


Please contact us via the following means:


USPS:   IHSGD Website

             6439 N. Neva St.

             Chicago, IL.  60631


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: