No history of Venango Catholic High School would be complete without first referencing St. Joseph High School. St. Joseph High School was officially dedicated on October 19, 1930. It had been the vision of Fr. Driscoll, then-pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Oil City, to build a high school to accommodate the growing community and to provide an education that would continue beyond St. Joseph Academy. Over the years St. Joseph High School flourished, so much so that the school eventually outgrew its building. Due to the increase in attendance, St. Joseph High School officially graduated its last class in the spring of 1962, and Venango Catholic High School opened its doors in the fall of the same year.
In 1958, the diocese of Erie purchased 55 of the most beautiful, wooded acres in the West End of Oil City. On 10 of the acres, the diocese constructed a 400 foot-long brick structure in the form of a semi-circle, consisting 1,100,000 cubic feet. On the 4th of September in the year of our Lord 1962, the doors of Venango Christian High School were opened to 442 students. Archbishop Gannon officially dedicated the school on September 16, 1962. He stated, “This school will be open to all Faiths, free to worship God, privately in any way they wish.”
Venango Catholic has had six Headmaster’s since the schools creation in 1962. The first was Fr. Lawrence J. Antoun who guided the school from 1962 until 1975. Fr. Antoun died in 1986 and the auditorium/gymnasium at Venango Catholic is now named after him. Dr. James Ruby succeeded him and led the school until 1989, and is currently a principal in the Franklin Area school district. Mr. Robert Haas was in charge of the school until 1992, and has since passed on to our Lord after his retirement from education. Fr. John (Jay) Schultz was Headmaster until 1999, when Fr. John P. Malthaner took over. Fr. Malthaner served as Headmaster from 1999 – 2012, when Fr. Shane Mathew, the current Headmaster, took over.
The school has always used uniforms, and while the style and color of the uniforms has changed slightly over the 50 year history of the school, the one consistent article has been the school’s emblem or crest, which is sewn on the uniform sweaters. In addition to the uniforms, most alumni will remember their education here in the Phasing System, which the school implemented in 1965. It was a cutting edge educational format that created a lot of interest from other schools. Today the schools curriculum and design continue to be progressive. Venango Catholic’s contemporary block scheduling method, which was implemented in 1997, consists of four 80 minute courses in the fall semester and four 80 minute courses in the spring semester. A 40 minute activity period rounds out the day. The 80 minute block allows for critical time necessary for science labs, writing prompts, reading comprehension, technology, classroom debate, and an unparalleled preparation for the college academic environment.
In 2001, the official name of the school was changed from Venango Christian High School to Venango Catholic High School. The move was meant to identify the specific faith of the school, but the inclusion of any and all faiths is still an important tenet of the school today.
VCHS is incredibly proud of its history, including the strong alumni community of St. Joseph High School and VCHS. We have alumni who own their own businesses, are CEO’s of companies, and are priests, nuns, coaches, teachers, moms and dads who are trying to raise their children with morals and integrity. We have the singular delight of teaching the children of alumni, who have sent their children to VCHS to get the quality education they themselves received.
Venango Catholic High School is eternally grateful to all who continue to support this excellent secondary educational institution with their time, talent, and resources. We are incredibly proud of our history and our contributions to the surrounding community, and we look forward to a bright and successful future.
Did you Know?
For St. Joseph
- That St. Joseph High School’s colors were green and gold.
- That the school was funded in large part by Henry McSweeney, a friend of Fr. Driscoll’s.
- That student athlete Forey Hall went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers.
- That the yearbook “Spires” was originally called the “Shamrock”
- That VC has attained and retained the highest rating possible for accreditation offered by the Middle States Accreditation Association.
- The cost to build VC was $832,500 – about $15 million in today’s money!
- The largest graduating class to date has been 452 students in 1968.
- Mark Garbacz still holds the Pa and National record of 55 rebounds in one game, a feat which he performed during a game on February 22, 1970 against East Forest.