St. Ambrose parish and the town in which it is located grew up together. The church's history dates back to a small group of Catholics who came to this part of the country before the town of Seymour was established.
Father Philip Doyle, pastor of the St. Joseph's Church at Four Corners, built the first Catholic church in Seymour in 1858 for the sum of $690. It was in this frame building across the street from the present St. Ambrose Church that the school began. Father Doyle's sister, Catherine, was the first school teacher.
The church bell was used to summon the parishioners for Mass as well as the children for school. During the week, the kneeling benches served as seats for the school children and the pews for their desks, while some of the more industrious boys built desks out of boxes.
In December of 1873, Reverend Anthony A. Schenk became the second resident pastor of St. Ambrose and oversaw the completion of a new school in 1874 at the cost of $10,000. The structure, built on the corner of Carter and South streets, was called the St. Ambrose Academy and Day School. The teachers were Sisters of Providence.
In 1887, Reverend J. Clement Conrad became pastor of St. Ambrose. There were about 175 children in the school. The Sisters of Providence remained from 1873 to 1917. In 1917, they were succeeded by Ursuline Sisters from Louisville, Ky. When the Ursuline Sisters departed 12 years later, two laywomen took over teaching duties at the school during the 1929-30 term. In 1930, the Order of St. Benedict Sisters from Ferdinand, Ind., took charge.
Father Conrad died on June 5, 1933 and Monsignor Augustine J. Rawlinson was appointed pastor. During his stay from 1933 to 1937, Monsignor Rawlinson remodeled the school and established a convent for the teaching Sisters adjacent to the school. It was necessary that the Sisters relinquish their living quarters in the school to make room for the growing number of pupils.
Father C.W. Burkhart was pastor from 1937 to 1946. During this time the basement of the school was renovated and converted into a recreation and meeting center. The hall was painted and a stage was erected. In 1946, Father Burkhart was transferred to Rushville, Ind., and Father Irvin T. Mattingly was appointed resident pastor.
In the spring of 1958, the construction of a new school -- the current St. Ambrose School -- on the corner of Bruce and Chestnut streets began. The new building included eight classrooms, offices, a music room, a library, a spacious auditorium/gymnasium and a large kitchen. At its peak, enrollment in the new school building reached 298.
In 1983, there were three nuns left at St. Ambrose and an enrollment of 110. Due to the shortage of nuns and the expense of keeping a large convent, St. Ambrose was forced to bid goodbye to the Benedictine Sisters.
Father Joseph B. Sheets served as pastor from 1983 to 2001, overseeing the construction of the new church center, which added new classrooms to the school. Preschool and kindergarten were also added to the school's enrollment during Father Sheets’ tenure.
Today, Fr. Dan Staublin serves as the pastor and Mike East serves as the deacon of St. Ambrose parish. Preschool through 8th grade are currently being taught. With the dedication of teachers and principals, St. Ambrose Catholic School continues to grow.
St. Ambrose School
St. Ambrose School History: Our story since 1858