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Saint Viator College

Bourbonnais, Illinois



The best source of ready information for St. Viator College is the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference website created by Jimdo.  This contains a short history of the school, basketball and football yearly records and a number of photos.  The Viatorian Community Archives contain a number of online images.  Internet Archive contains yearly catalogs through 1921.


St. Viateur College (as it was originally spelled) was founded in 1865 as a village school by French-Canadian clerics of the order of St.Viator under the leadership of Father P. Beaudoin.  It soon became an academy for boys, and in 1868 it became a four-year liberal arts college under the leadership of Father Thomas Roy.  Advertisements in 1911 show that the school maintained a preparatory course as well as academic and commercial courses, awarding the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Letters.  It featured departments of theology, philosophy, science and mathematics, and literature and elocution.


St. Patrick’s Literary and Debating Society helped St. Viator make newspaper headlines through its debate programs and oratory contests.   The “Viatorian” Journal Association published a monthly magazine.  St. Viator also sponsored a philharmonic orchestra and a glee club.   All physically able students were required to undergo military training.


Enrolled stayed between 250 and 300 for much of the school’s history.  An ominous note in 1935 states that enrollment had fallen to 75 for the fall semester.  In 1938 mortgage holders foreclosed on a $320,000 debt, forcing St. Viator to close after 70 years of service.  


Among prominent graduates of St. Viator was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Bricks and Mortar

St. Viator College was located in the Village of Bourbonnais, near Kankakee.  A disastrous fire in 1906 destroyed all campus buildings except the new gymnasium.  The Clerics rebuilt the campus that same year. In 1926, another fire burned the gymnasium.


The keystone of the new St. Viator campus was the Marsile Alumni Hall.  The four-story building measured 160 by 82 feet.  It contained administrative offices on the ground floor, dormitory rooms on the second floor, study halls on the third floor and classrooms on the fourth floor.  The four-story Roy Hall was the main dormitory for students and teachers.


When the buildings passed into use by Olivet Nazarene College in 1940, Roy Hall became Chapman Hall for men and Marsile Alumni Hall became Burke Administration Buildin

Three main buildings of St. Viator College.  Marsile Alumni Center (center) is flanked by the gymnasium (left) and Roy Hall (right) (1909-10 annual catalogue,<>) accessed 2-02-2017


        Colors: Purple and Gold

        Team name:  Early baseball teams were                                        officially “Shamrocks"


St. Viator played football first in 1895 and regularly from 1901.  They joined the Little 19 Conference in 1916, winning conference titles in 1927 and 1936.  The 1918 and 1921 teams suffered only single losses. Two Viators played professionally—Vince McCarthy, an end and back, played for the Rock Island Independents in 1924-25; linesman (and professional wrestler) Ambrose Rasher played for the Portsmouth Spartans in 1932. 


St. Viator played basketball, with the 1922 and 1931 teams scoring league championships.  They also played baseball, with graduate Bud Clancy going on to a nine-year professional career as a first baseman with the White Sox, Dodgers and Phillies.  The Viators participated in track, and one newspaper note suggests that they had a boxing team.  The school seems to have been well organized for intramurals with an indoor baseball league and a tennis club.

The 1908 team (above) won five of eight games.  Viators defeated Grand Prairie Seminary, Downers Grover AC, Chicago College of Physicians and Surgeons, Hyde Park Blues AC, and Loyola (IL).  Losses were to Notre Dame, to Marquette, and to Culver Military Academy.   (1908-09Annual Catalogue, <>) accessed 2-02-2107


Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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