The first Catholic school was established and classes were taught in a house by lay teachers in the 600 block of West Prairie in the home of a Miss Sheperd. The small school moved from west Prairie to the home of Mrs. Marvin on West Main Street. Since 1853 Mass was celebrated in this home until in 1857 a frame church was built in the 700 block of West Prairie Street. In 1866, Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary arrived from Montreal. They opened a school for girls under the name of St. Teresa Academy. The Academy-convent was on Eldorado, across the street from the present site of St. Patrick Church. Property was bought on North Street, at the site of the present school. The old frame church was moved and a new church was built on the corner of Jackson and North Street. By 1859, the old church was now the school. For years the children sat on the kneelers and used the pews for desktops. One big classroom served the school except for one additional room in the sacristy.
The sisters left Decatur in 1870 because of hardship and distance from their motherhouse in Montreal. In 1871, Ursulines from New York came and they too left because of difficulties and distance. The pastor, Fr. Hickey requested Ursulines from Alton, Illinois. The Ursulines in Alton were contacted and responded. Beginning in 1873, Ursulines served at St. Patrick School for more than one hundred twenty years.
Boys and girls were now taught at St. Teresa Academy. In 1880, the high school department opened. In 1882, Fr. Mackin had a four-room brick building erected on the east side of St. Teresa. This new building on Eldorado, across from the present rectory, opened for boys and girls in 1882 and was named St. Patrick School. Their first graduation was in 1884.
Fr. Jeremiah Murphy built the present St. Patrick Church in 1909. Our present St. Patrick School, built in 1912, had “eight large rooms.” In 1918, the high school was discontinued. In 1913, St. Teresa Academy, for girls only, moved to North Water Street. The all girl academy grew and in 1930 developed into the present co-ed St. Teresa High School.
Since 1954 when Reverend W. Pendergast received permission to establish a church and school, 154 years have passed. St. Patrick School continues to preserve the traditions of its past, to work with the advances of the present, and to prepare for the challenges of the future.