The dreams of a pioneer woman, the zeal of a missionary priest and the commitment and strength of five Dominican Sisters created the tradition of excellence we call Bethlehem Academy.
Summer 1865 - The Murphy family set from New York for a better life, the good life. They headed for California. As they arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota, the threat of Indian uprising farther West was increasingly unsettling. The Murphy family decided to settle in Minnesota until travel was safer. Within 10 months all family members had passed away, except for two children: a brother and sister. As mother Catherine lay dying she called for Father Keller. In her final dying wish she begged Father Keller to grant her children a Catholic education. This last request gave birth to a legacy that would continue for more than 140 years: Bethlehem Academy.
August 1865 - After approaching Bishop Grace, then bishop of St. Paul and the area, Father Keller was hopeful. The Bishop asked the Dominican Sisters to help with Catherine's last wish. Five sisters journeyed from their motherhouse in Benton, Wisconsin to St. Paul. There they took a stage to Faribault. Bishop Grace had purchased a home for the sisters from Major Fowler and his wife, the brother-in-law of Alexander Faribault. The house became a home for the boarders, a convent for the sisters and a school for the students and teachers. It was named Bethlehem Academy and Sister Josephine, Sister Gertrude and Sister Imelda were the first teachers. Sister Veronica and Sister Benvenuta taught in the grade school of Immaculate Conception.
Early 1866 - More rooms in the original Fowler home were soon converted as the number of students increased. Eventually even the basement was remodeled.
As class sizes continued to grow, Bethlehem Academy outgrew the Fowler home. Father Keller offered his home and it became Bethlehem Academy's second home.
1868 - St. Joseph, patron saint of Bethlehem Academy, is said to have brought firewood on a cold winter night.
1872 - It didn't take long for the Academy to outgrow those walls. Construction of a new Bethlehem Academy began in 1872. The school was built in the space that is now the parking lot.
1876 - The main building was ready for class in 1876. A north wing was added in 1899 and the south wing in 1908.
1885 - Bethlehem Academy was chartered by the state of Minnesota. B.A. awarded its first diplomas to its first five graduates: Jennie O'Brien, Mary McManus, Ellen Coughlin, Julia Delehanty, and Emma Conlin.
1903 - Alumnae establish the Bethlehem Academy Alumnae Association.
1935 - Bethlehem Academy first admitted boys. Interscholastic sports for boys also begins.
1946 - Students select the first king for the Homecoming dance.
1948 - Ground was broken for the "new" Bethlehem Academy. The school opened in the fall of 1949. (A trophy case in the front lobby was the location of the doorway to "old" B.A. which continued to house the convent and boarding girls until 1962.)
1953 - Parents organize the first Pancake Supper and the County Fair Stand.
1955 - Students select the first queen for the first SnoBall Dance.
1956 & 1958 - The baseball teams win the state Catholic championship - the first small school to win the championship.
1957 - Parents of the Activities Association begin the Memorial Endowment Fund.
1960 - The students begin the tradition of the Homecoming motorcade with floats.
1962 - The sisters discontinue the girls boarding school.
1965 - Bethlehem Academy celebrated 100 years. B.A. graduates its largest class - 121 students.
1966 - The "old" B.A. (boarding school and convent) is demolished.
1967 - The Sisters, parents and supporters organize a lay advisory board.
1969 - Parents begin the Minuteman and Cardinal Classic raffles.
1973 - Girls interscholastic sports begin.
1975 - Students raise funds for the first Marathon for Non-Public Education.
1976 - Supporters give over $200,000 in the "Decision '76" major campaign.
1984-1985 - Faribault B.A., Inc. established a corporate board to govern the school.
1985 - Parents organize the first BABS (BA Backers and Supporters) Night.
1986 - Bethlehem Academy added grades 7 & 8.
1990 - Bethlehem Academy celebrated its 125th anniversary of Catholic education in Faribault. Bethlehem Academy is the oldest high school in the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis.
1993 - Parents organize the first Holiday Gathering silent auction.
1995 - Bethlehem Academy holds its first All-School Reunion in honor of its 130th anniversary.
2003 - The volleyball team wins the school's first ever Minnesota State High School League state championship. State volleyball championships followed in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
2004 - Ms. Bette Blaisdell becomes the first lay principal of Bethlehem Academy
2005 - The Academy celebrates its 140 anniversary with an All-School Reunion.
2005 - B.A. becomes a pioneer school in technology as it implements a one-to-one laptop program - issuing each student a laptop computer to use during the school year.
2013 - B.A. and Divine Mercy Catholic School collaborate on a middle school program. 6th grade is housed at BA combined with grades 7 & 8 to form a middle school program.
2015 - B.A. celebrates its 150th anniversary