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A walk down memory lane

SAN ANTONIO – In hopes of establishing a prominent Catholic institution in the San Antonio area, the Congregation of the Sisters of DivineProvidence (CDP) first founded Our Lady of the Lake Academy in 1895. In 1866, the CDP traveled from France to Texas to establish Catholic schools for young women. Once they arrived in Texas, they acquired land at the west end of San Antonio adjacent to Lake Elmendorf.


Once laying eyes on the property, Mother Florence decided to create an all-girl high school so that young women could receive an education while learning about Catholic values.

“I think what makes the name Our Lady of the Lake unique is that it pays homage to the all-girls high school that the university originally used to be in the 1890s,” said Gabriel Cook, a third-year student at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU). “The fact that the name stands to this day gives the university a more nostalgic feel compared to other schools.”

The CDPs initiated the construction process for the main building on Aug. 14, 1895. Among the many duties and challenges that came with establishing a brand-new school, one notable was deciding on a name for the institution. According to Professor of History Sister Margit Nagy PhD, several suggestions were made throughout the process.

“The Superior General of the CDP, Mother Mary Florence Walter, told John Anthony Forest, the then Bishop of San Antonio, that the Sisters wanted to name their Academy, St. Mary’s of the Lake.”

OLLU’s current Cataloging and Special Collections Librarian, Dr. Jason Bourgeois, said that Bishop Forest recommended that it be called the Academy of Our Lady of the Lake so that it would not be confused with other local schools called St. Mary’s. The Sisters agreed.

In the following years, the institution went through additional name changes. The names included Our Lady of the Lake College in 1911 and Providence University of San Antonio in 1975. After going through several variations of the name, the name was officially set to the current name of Our Lady of the Lake University of San Antonio.


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