The first big change at St. Mary’s under Father O’Connor (1936 -1938) was not of his doing. Cardinal Mundelein replaced the Sisters of Mercy with the Sisters of Charity of Providence whose Mother House was in Montreal. Most of the sixty-four women who arrived at St. Mary’s had little or no grasp of English and, of course, the children didn’t speak French! Somehow, total chaos was avoided.
Father O’Connor also felt that the dormitories were too institutional – housing up to 100 children to a dorm. He broke the large rooms into smaller “halls”, each with its own living rooms and shower and toilet facilities – previously, the children had to troop to the basement for their showers. A total of twenty halls were created, each of which could accommodate up to forty children. Each hall was supervised by one of the sisters, often referred to as the Hall Mother.
In 1938, Father O’Connor resurrected the student newspaper, now called the Voice of St. Mary’s. The children once again delighted in the news of their home and the mention of their friends and themselves in print, whether for heroics in sports or just as the butt of a prank.
Most Reverend Willam O’Connor left St. Mary’s in 1938 to head Catholic Charities and later to become the Bishop of the Springfield, Illinois Diocese.