St. Mary’s and Community Catholic High School, Sterling IL

Sterling St. Mary/Community Catholic High School
A building with trees in front of it

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Credit: “History of the Parishes of Diocese of Rockford” by Rev. Cornelius Kirkfleet

The History of St. Mary’s and Community Catholic High Schools – Sterling, IL

Sterling, Illinois is located along the Rock River 45 miles east of the Quad City Area, 75 miles north of Peoria, 52 miles southwest of Rockford and 80 miles west of Chicagoland. The Union Pacific “Overland Route” from San Francisco to Chicago runs through the town. Religion is well-accommodated in Sterling, as there are at least 25 church organizations in the town of 15,500. The “twin” in the school is Rock Falls, the city across the Rock River from Sterling.

The Reverend Monsignor A.J. Burns founded the St. Mary’s parish in Sterling in 1915. There were 22 freshmen enrolled in high school courses that year, in one room on the second floor. In 1920, the St. Mary’s Parish joined with the Sacred Heart Parish of Sterling and became St. Mary’s-Sacred Heart Community High School,” or for short, “Community Catholic High School.

Two years later, Sterling Community Catholic High School erected its own building at the cost of $140,000.00. The cornerstone was laid by the Catholic Bishop of Rockford, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Peter J. Muldoon on July 4th, 1923, which was exact 11 years to the date that the cornerstone was laid at St. Mary’s Grade School. Economics, religion, math, Latin, history, sciences, electives in modern larnguages, music and “oral expression” were offerered as classes.

By 1929, Community Catholic was accepting students from all over the Whiteside/Lee/Carroll County area.

In the mid-1950’s, plans were made to establish a new high school on the northwest side of town, named after Cardinal John Henry Newman. The opening of Newman Central Catholic High School in 1958 thus ended the run of “Community Catholic.”

St. Marys/Community Catholic High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                                      1915

Year new school built:                         1958

Became:                                             Newman Central Catholic High School

HS team nickname:                             Comets

HS team colors:                                  Blue & White

School Fight Song:                              unavailable

Athletics and Extra-Curriculars

Sterling St. Mary’s/Community Catholic offered plenty of athletics and other extra-curriculars. A more detailed research into athletics will be on this site soon.


Home games were played at the park on the corner of Woodburn Avenue and 7th Street (Harry Kidd Field is what the park is called today).

1950-51               1-6-1                                Coach Herb McDonnell

1951-52               2-6                                   Coach Herb McDonnell

1952-53               3-5-1                                Coach Herb McDonnell

1953-54               5-4                                  Coach Herb McDonnell

1954-55               4-5                                  Coach Herb McDonnell

1955-56               8-0-1                               Coach Herb McDonnell

1956-57               2-7                                  Coach Herb McDonnell

1957-58               3-5-1                               Coach Ed Scheck

Need Your In-put

If you have any information regarding the Sterling St. Mary’s/Community Catholic High School athletic program and other school programs offered there, please share them with us. We are especially interested in sharing photos of the old high school building and great teams and coaches.  Please share with us by completing a School Submission Form or a Guest Commentary Form.  You can also reach us by the following means:

E-mail –

Written –  Illinois HS Glory Days

                6439 N. Neva St.

                Chicago, Il.  60631

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