With the history of Harrisburg Catholic /Bishop McDevitt High School just six years shy of the century mark, the third site to provide a home to Catholic secondary education in the Harrisburg region opened for occupancy at One Crusader Way in Lower Paxton Township on January 7, 2012.
The original Harrisburg Catholic High School, started by Bishop Philip R. McDevitt two years after his appointment to head the Harrisburg Diocese, was housed at Church and North Streets near the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in the city. It opened in September 1918 with 44 students and four teachers.
Bishop McDevitt, a champion of Catholic education from the days of his service as director of the Catholic schools in his native Philadelphia, saw the need for a new high school building, and, after raising funds for its construction in the community, broke ground for a new school in July 1929 at 2200 Market Street in the city. The new Harrisburg Catholic High School was completed and dedicated on October 20, 1930. The McDevitt Athletic Field was dedicated five years later, on September 27, 1935, just 45 days prior to the death of Bishop McDevitt. Tracy Hall was added in 1950, Aquinas Hall in 1957, and St. John’s Hall in 1962.
Bishop George L. Leech, the successor to Bishop McDevitt in the Harrisburg Diocese, on the occasion of the dedication of Aquinas Hall in 1957, renamed the Catholic High School of Harrisburg as Bishop McDevitt High School in honor of its founder.
Enrollment growth at McDevitt High led to the opening of Trinity High School in 1963 to serve the students of the West Shore parishes. McDevitt’s enrollment dropped by half in the years following Trinity’s establishment. Among the major changes in the ensuing years were the establishment of student tuition and the introduction of school uniforms.
The school has a great history of alumni success and generosity, and a reputation for student achievement in academics and athletics, but it is the spirit of Bishop McDevitt High School that has always set it apart. That spirit was present in the religious foundation ofthe first Catholic High School of Harrisburg– in the zeal of Bishop McDevitt for providing young people with a Christian education, in the dedication of the religious orders who taught generations of students, and in the tradition carried on to the present day by the school’s committed faculty and staff and loving parents and benefactors. The students of McDevitt benefit from and contribute to the spirit of respect and love that is the hallmark of Bishop McDevitt.
John Brixius, Former Principal