Bishop Manogue Catholic High School in Reno, Nevada has an interesting history and proud tradition. At the time it first opened its doors September 13, 1948, it was the only Catholic high school in the entire state.
Although it was the only Catholic high school when it opened, there had been earlier schools in Nevada which had closed decades previously. The Daughters of Charity first had established “St. Mary’s School and Orphan Asylum” in 1864 in Virginia City. Both day students and boarders attended St. Mary’s, and it is estimated that high school students were included in the student population. Father Patrick Manogue was instrumental in bringing the Daughters of Charity to Virginia City to establish the schools. By 1897 Virginia City Catholic schools had closed, suffering the fate of numerous business and mining enterprises which had done the same thing when the fortunes of the city had waned.
The first Catholic school in Reno proper, St. Mary’s Academy, opened in 1879. This St. Mary’s was founded by Mother Delores, a Dominican nun. The student body included students of high school age. Like its counterpart in Virginia City, this school and its sequel closed in 1892.
Bishop Manogue Catholic High School is a separately incorporated, non-profit, diocesan school operated under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, currently Bishop Randolph R. Calvo. As a diocesan school, it is useful to recall briefly the connection and history with this diocese.
The diocese of Reno, Nevada was formally created on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 1931. Although previously under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of such western dioceses as Monterey, San Francisco, Sacramento and Salt Lake City, Nevada had no separate diocese or resident Bishop until that date in 1931. Thomas K. Gorman of Los Angeles was appointed the state’s first Bishop. The diocese covered all of the state’s 17 counties which in 1931 included 11 parishes, an elementary school, a hospital, and “an array of missions and stations.” Despite the considerable geographic expanse of the state, there was no Catholic high school within the state’s boundaries.
In 1948 Reno was the largest city in Nevada. There was but one Catholic elementary school in the Reno-Sparks area, namely St. Thomas Aquinas, located at the Cathedral of the same name. Students completing 8th grade at St. Thomas had no choice for high school except the public school option.
Bishop Gorman, still the Reno Bishop in 1948, and with the support of the Catholic community, decided the time to open a Catholic high school was overdue. The diocese owned property in an area which had most recently been the Flick ranch east of Sparks along the Truckee River. The Bishop decided to dedicate this property for the high school. Many of the ranch house bedrooms were converted into classrooms.
There was considerable risk in starting a new Catholic high school. There was but one Catholic parochial elementary school. Finances in the diocese were not without challenges. Nevada was considered mission territory. Concern existed as to whether the school could succeed.
Undaunted, the school opened its doors that beginning of the school year in September, 1948. Reverend Joseph Linde, a diocesan priest, was appointed the first Principal. The first year of operation was limited to freshman, sophomore and junior classes. There was no senior class, so the first class to graduate was the class of 1950, consisting of 14 students: 8 boys and 6 girls. The next graduating class, the class of 1951 was larger, consisting of 37 students.
The school was named after Bishop Patrick Manogue, an Irish-born prelate who as a young man worked as a miner in the Moore’s Flat area of northern California. He worked here for approximately five years to support his orphaned family of six brothers and sisters. After working in the mines, Patrick Manogue entered the seminary at San Sulpice in Paris. Ordained in 1861, he was assigned to Virginia City where he served for some twenty years. Virginia City, home to the Comstock silver and gold lode, was a mining Mecca at the time. Father Patrick Manogue was particularly suited for the assignment, given his own labor in the mines.
Father Patrick Manogue was consecrated coadjutor bishop of Grass Valley in 1881, and took over the diocese in 1884, moving diocesan headquarters to Sacramento in 1886. This diocese held jurisdiction over northern Nevada at the time. Because of the extensive association with the northern Nevada area, the selection of Bishop Manogue as the school name was seemly and appropriate. To this day the nickname attached to the school is the “Manogue Miners.”
The first location of Bishop Manogue Catholic High School was at the Flick Ranch, described earlier. After nine years at this location, idyllic as it was, space constraints obliged a move to larger, improved quarters.
And so it was the second Bishop of Reno, Bishop Robert J. Dwyer, moved and expanded the school to some twenty-two acres northeast of the University of Nevada. This new school opened in September 1957. The school grew and enjoyed acceptance and stature in the community.
Many priests and religious served as faculty, chaplains and administrators at Bishop Manogue Catholic High School. As a diocesan school, numerous diocesan priests served in this capacity. Religious orders likewise served the Bishop Manogue family. These included:
In 1992 the days of priests and religious serving as principals of Bishop Manogue Catholic High School changed course. At that time the school also adopted a President – Principal model of governance. Lay Principals became the norm, and religious brothers in the persons of Brother Matthew Cunningham, FSR, and Brother Ignatius Foster, FSR, previous Principals themselves, served as Presidents. In 1996 the presidency too moved to lay persons.
As years progressed, the building “on the hill” near the University became increasingly inadequate and grew into increased disrepair. Classrooms were limited, and portable units were set up. The school could not be effectively wired for advances in technology, and sports facilities were lacking. The University of Nevada, interested in acquiring the nearby campus for its own expansion needs, made periodic inquiries into acquisition of the property. As a consequence of these factors, Bishop Manogue’s strategic plan in the late 1990s included a vision to build a new high school.
Bishop Philip Straling, appointed Bishop of the Reno Diocese in 1995 when the state of Nevada was split into two dioceses—one headquartered in Reno and one in Las Vegas—was foresighted on many fronts. Bishop Straling moved to construct a new, improved, state of the art facility. An ambitious capital campaign ensued.
Despite the considerable challenges of raising sufficient funds, a new school facility opened in the fall of 2004. Certain components of the old facility were incorporated in the new: the chapel steeple, the chapel’s stained glass windows, the brick archways, the vaulted ceilings, the Stations of the Cross among them. This third location and facility of Bishop Manogue Catholic High School has enjoyed praise and plaudits from virtually everyone who has seen it. Built for some 750 students on a campus of almost fifty acres, the school is able to expand should the need arise.
In 2004 the school was separately incorporated as a 501(c)(3) corporation. Also in 2004 Bishop Manogue Catholic High School moved to Division 4A within the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association for sanctioned sports and activities. Although considerably smaller than the threshold of the minimum of 1200 students for schools designated 4A, Bishop Manogue has proven itself highly competitive in all academic and athletic aspects of the division.
The school serves a population of families residing in the Reno-Sparks area. Also served are communities in the Carson Valley, Fernley, Minden-Gardnerville, Incline Village, South Tahoe and Truckee, California areas.
In the academic year 2009-10 Bishop Manogue established an Independent Learning Center (ILC) for students with learning differences. In the academic year 2010-2011 the school established an International program for students leading to graduation.
Bishop Manogue Catholic High School has produced more than 5,100 alumni throughout the course of its history. In recent years 99% of the school’s graduates have continued their education at the college level.
Currently Bishop Manogue Catholic High School is accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission (formerly the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools), and is a member of the Western Catholic Educational Association.