St. Peter’s Legacy Project
In honor of St. Peter’s 140th anniversary, current 8th graders interviewed several alumni and friends to learn about the school’s history and the impact the school and parish had on their lives. Click the play button on any of the videos below to watch that interview.
Dolores McKeever Donahue
As a child, Dolores McKeever Donahue came with her parents to the St. Peter’s Convent, on the 2nd Sunday of each month for “Visiting Day” with her aunt, Sr. Mary De La Salle, a Sister of Mercy who taught at St. Peter’s Academy – the girl’s high school. Often time she and her cousins would slip away to St. Francis Fountain at 24th and York Street for sodas and her father would drive by the old family home on Bryant Street.
Dolores’s Catholic faith and Catholic education made her the person she is today. When she retired from a career in real estate in the 1980s, she called on Sister Marian Rose, a cousin, to ask if she could volunteer in the classroom as a tutor. Over time she was invited to serve on the school’s Advisory Board.
Through Dolores, St. Peter’s has received support from The O’Shea Foundation, a family foundation, and has built a mutually beneficial relationship with University of San Francisco for on-site student teacher training and scholarship funding for our teachers to attend the USF Catholic Education Leadership Program.
As part of the 140th Anniversary history project, 8th graders interviewed Roberto Hernandez who graduated from St. Peter’s in 1970. His older siblings, Gloria and Roger, attended St. Peter’s as well. Their father Roger was a deacon at St. Peter’s Church.
Prior to the 1970s, there were no Spanish language Masses at St. Peter’s. Deacon Roger Hernandez helped start the Latin Club at St. Peters and then, over time, Latino feast days were celebrated such as La Virgen de Guadalupe, La Purisima, Las Posadas and La Misa de los Hombres. With his work, the concept of a Latin Club spread to other parishes including St. Paul’s and St. Anthony’s.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Parish was very supportive of United Farm Workers grape boycott. When Father Hagen invited Cesar Chavez to speak at St. Peter’s, Roberto remembers that the church was packed. Not only did the Hernandez family walk the strike line at the nearby Safeway, they sent Roberto, at age 12, to work with the Farmworkers one summer in Delano, California.
As part of the 140th Anniversary history project, 8th graders interviewed Larry Del Carlo.
Larry attended CCD classes at St. Peter’s while his sister Joan attended St. Peter’s (Class of 1968). His parents, Joe and Juanita DelCarlo were deeply involved in the parish and Mission District social justice issues, advocating for the needs of the Mission when they received political appointments- Joe by Mayor Alioto and Juanita by Mayors Moscone and Feinstein.
Larry has experienced the impact of St. Peter’s, his Catholic values and commitment to service throughout his career in government and his personal life. Larry continues to work for affordable housing here in the Mission District through the Mission Housing Corporation and youth employment through YouthBuild. With his help and that of for SPS parent, John Nuno, St. Peter’s School was able to send our current 7th graders to Caritas Environmental Camp this fall.
Julie and Cathy Ramacciotti
As part of the 140th Anniversary history project, SPS 8th graders interviewed Julie and Cathy Ramacciotti.
Four generations of the Ramacciotti family have attended St. Peter’s School. Julie graduated from the girls’ high school, St. Peter’s Academy in 1950, Don from the Boy’s High School also in 1950. Their daughters attended, then a grandson and now a great-granddaugher.
During their years at St. Peter’s, Don and Julie worked with other parents to strengthen community ties – organizing parish picnics, festivals and bingo games each year. They organized the summer program - which they called “The Summer of Love”. Parents did this on top of their jobs, both the fathers and the mothers, and the time to take care of their own families. They also were supportive caring for one another and one another’s children in times of difficulty and celebrating times of joy.
There’s a shed on the St. Peter’s campus as a plaque dedicated to Don Ramacciotti. He was a member of the Carpenter’s Union, which continues to support St. Peter’s to this day.
Isabel and Roberto Sanchez immigrated from Mexico to the United States in the 1920s. When they moved their Casa Sanchez restaurant and tortilla factory from the Upper Fillmore District to 24th Street in the Mission District, they enrolled their children at nearby St. Peter’s School and St. Peter’s Church became their parish.
Since that time generations of Sanchez family members have attended St. Peter’s including siblings Elizabeth, George, James, Martha and Robert, many of their children, and several grandchildren. They have evolved their business from a family restaurant to an internationally known food Mexican Food distribution company.
At St. Peter’s they felt safe and loved, formed life-long friends, and continue to this day supporting the school through their donations and volunteer time, especially in the St. Peter’s afterschool sports programs.
Martha Sanchez, Class of 1975, visited St. Peter’s to tell her family story to 8th interviewers Tattyana Montenegro and Julian Bautista and Videographer Juan Galvez. Click play above to watch the interview.
Sister Lucy Calvillo & Brother Joseph Fabiano
Sister Lucy Calvillo RSM, HS ’56 and Brother Joseph Fabiano, ES’52 are representatives of the two religious orders that established schools in St. Peter’s Parish – The Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers.
The orders experienced great change in the 1960s when Pope Paul and other Church leaders directed the religious communities to become more involved in the outside world. Both Brother Joseph and Sister Lucy saw this as a very hopeful time and an exciting time to use their talents to help others. Education continued as a priority for both the Mercy Sisters and the Brothers. The philosophies of both continue today to encourage students to develop the person they are and the gifts they may have.
While both are officially retired, they continue to be of service – Sr. Lucy at St. Peter’s as an aide in the classroom and Brother Joseph at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in the library. He also keeps an eye on our graduates attending SHCP.
Cyndi & Frank Gonzalez
Cyndi was hired as a teacher at St. Peter’s in 1974. A native San Franciscan, she had interviewed at other schools, but when she came to St. Peter’s, she liked the way the school looked, the openness of the facility and the warmth she felt. Her first principal was Sr. Diana Petz RSM.
By that time, Cyndi had converted to Catholicism and married Frank Gonzalez SPS Class of 1959. They were attending St. Peter’s Church and living in the Mission.
When Frank was a boy, the Mission wasn’t an easy place to live. His father was always working so afterschool Frank went from St. Peter’s to his home nearby to eat and then he spent most of his time at the Boys Club. There he got to know boys from lots of different families and backgrounds and learned how to play a variety of sports. He went on to attend Sacred Heart High School and then St. Mary’s College, both Christian Brothers institutions.
As the years went on Frank became a volleyball coach at St. Peter’s and then when he retired, he came to school to help Cyndi in the classroom.
Cyndi has taught at St. Peter’s continuously for 44 years. From her experience working side-by-side the Sisters of Mercy, she applied for and was accepted as a Mercy Associate, pledging to support to the Mercy mission, ministries and spirituality.