St. Patrick's Mission and Boarding School

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St. Patrick's Mission and Boarding School
Opened 1892
Closed 1966
Alternate Names


Between 1875 and 1925 Catholic mission conducted extensive mission work among American Indians in Oklahoma, though their efforts were not particularly fruitful in the long run. The longest lived of these was St. Patrick's Mission, established near the Anadarko Agency in 1892 and operated continuously until 1966. A project of the Benedictine monks at Sacred Heart in the Potawatomi Nation, the mission was directed by Isidore Ricklin, O.S.B. (1862–1921). Born in Heidwedler, Alsace, he had been ordained at Buckfast Abbey, England, in 1889 and arrived at Sacred Heart the following year. In 1891 he was appointed to start the Anadarko mission for Kiowa and Comanche boys, the first Catholic effort on behalf of the Plains Indians of Oklahoma. The mission was funded in part by St. Katharine Drexel (1858–1955), a Philadelphia heiress who had become a nun and who had used her great fortune to benefit American Indians and African Americans. The Franciscan Sisters of Glen Riddle, Pennsylvania, staffed St. Patrick's.Enrollment in 1897 is recorded as 106 pupils. Enrollment in 1907 is recorded as 82 pupils. Ricklin built the original mission complex at Anadarko and then rebuilt it after a disastrous fire in 1909. A large farm produced adequate food for the students, and the surplus was sold for cash. Between 1911 and 1933 St. Patrick's was an official federal Indian school called Anadarko Boarding School. Priests and sisters who staffed it held civil service positions under the Department of the Interior. St Patrick's was arguably one of the most successful Catholic mission schools, boasting large Mass's and many baptisms, as well as moderate acceptance into the community. St. Patrick's holds claim to having schooled a few of Oklahoma's leading Indian artists, including Acee Blue Eagle and Woody Crumbo.