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Nouvel Catholic Central was named for Father Henri Nouvel, the Jesuit missionary priest who celebrated the first Mass to take place in the interior of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula on the banks of the Saginaw River. It was during the wintery month of November 1675 that Father Nouvel set out from St. Ignace on a nearly month-long journey by canoe to the Saginaw Bay. He paddled through fog, rain and ice-encrusted water, but eventually made it to the mouth of the Saginaw River. On December 3, the Feast Day of St. Francis Xavier, Father Nouvel celebrated the first Mass in the interior of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. His visit to Saginaw is considered so significant that in 1952 the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw erected a marker on Ojibway Island to commemorate the event. When you visit Ojibway Island today, look for the marker in memory of Father Henri Nouvel.

Nearly two centuries after Father Nouvel’s visit to Saginaw the first Catholic high school came into existence, St. Mary High School in 1868. By the mid-1960s, Saginaw was home to nine Catholic high schools, eight of which were still in operation. The nine schools were: St. Mary, St. Joseph, St. Andrew, SS. Peter & Paul, Holy Family, Sacred Heart, Holy Rosary, St. Paul Seminary and St. Stephen. Great population shifts led to declining enrollment, and by the early 1980s, only three high schools remained in operation. A prudent but nonetheless painful decision was made by the Diocese of Saginaw to merge the three remaining high schools, St. Mary, SS. Peter & Paul and St. Stephen, into one. Nouvel Catholic Central opened its doors in the fall of 1984.

Many parents or grandparents of Nouvel students are graduates of one of the nine former high schools. The school follows the path of its Legacy Schools toward the future; continuing the mission of forming young people as disciples of Jesus Christ. Nouvel is proud of the rich heritage and legacy of faith inherited from the Legacy Schools. The past truly illuminates the future.

A high and exhilarating task awaits you: that of becoming men and women capable of solidarity, peace and love of life, with respect for everyone.

– Pope John Paul II