Years of Growth: 1856–1860

SI started in debt and continued in debt until well into the 20th century. By the end of 1856, SI owed nearly $20,000, and was operating at a loss. The school’s net revenues were barely half of what was paid on the annual interest ($1,489) toward its debt.36 To pay off this interest, Maraschi simply borrowed more money.

He also needed funds to hire a new teacher for the school’s second year. Peter J. Malloy, like SI’s first teacher, was an immigrant from Ireland. (Malloy would later become California’s first Jesuit candidate for the priesthood when he entered the Jesuit ranks at Santa Clara College on September 1, 1857. He died several months later, on December 20, 1857, and is buried in the Mission Dolores cemetery.)

The school grew in 1858 when Maraschi built two new classrooms behind the first school building. That year he also purchased a collection of shells for the school’s museum and bought scientific instruments. “We do not deny that the museum and [scientific] cabinet of 1858 were very small affairs,” writes Riordan. “We merely wonder that there were any at all … when we reflect that their inception coincides with a period of great financial depression in San Francisco, when the city was in great part depopulated by the mad rush to the gold fields of Frazer river.”37

Fortunately, the 1858–1859 term saw an increase in the number of students (75) and faculty. In addition to the laymen William Barry, John Grace and John Egan, several priests were active in the faculty. Maraschi taught Greek and Spanish; Fr. Emmanuel Nattini, SJ, taught music; Fr. Urban Grassi, SJ, taught English and mathematics; and Fr. Alphonse Biglione, SJ, taught Latin, English, French and Algebra. Fr. Biglione also established the Students’ Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, marking the start of a tradition that lasted until the 1970s with the start of Christian Life Communities at the Sunset District campus. (Fr. Grassi had earlier taught at Santa Clara College. His transfer to SI marked the start of ebb and flow of teachers between these two schools for years to come.)38

The Monitor, the Catholic newspaper for San Francisco, published this ad in its April 3, 1858, edition:

Day School
The third annual session of the Day School at St. Ignatius Church, Market Street, between Fourth and Fifth, directed by the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, commenced on the 1st of September. The hours of attendance are from 9 o’clock a.m. to 3 o’clock p.m. Pupils of all denominations admitted.

English, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Greek, Elocution, Arithmetic, Bookkeeping, Mathematics, History, Geography, per month, $8

Preparatory Department, $5. Three lessons weekly will be given in drawing for $2 per month. No extra charge for vocal music and stationery. Payments to be made monthly in advance.

For further information apply in the forenoon to A. Maraschi, S.J.

Before the end of the term, on April 30, 1859, the state legislature granted a charter to the school, and SI officially incorporated under California state law. St. Ignatius Academy changed its name to St. Ignatius College and had the right to confer degrees. That August, the Alta California published an article praising Maraschi as “eminently qualified for the position [of college president], being a finished scholar and a man of high moral character. He has labored incessantly to advance the interests of those placed under his charge and the examination of the several classes exhibited the complete success which has attended his efforts.”39

The faculty continued to change throughout the 1850s and 1860s as priests were transferred between Santa Clara and SI and as lay teachers came and went with each new discovery of gold or with the lure of a higher-paying job. The one constant was Maraschi who, in typical Jesuit fashion, wore many hats. In addition to serving as college president, he acted as treasurer; an instructor of Latin, Greek and Spanish; and parish priest for St. Ignatius Church where he (as with all Jesuits stationed at SI) celebrated Mass, heard confessions, visited the sick, kept the books and maintained and expanded the facilities. Maraschi served as president until 1862 when he turned the duties over to Fr. Nicolas Congiato, SJ, but he stayed on at SI where he served as treasurer and teacher until his death. SI thrives still because of Fr. Maraschi’s careful stewardship, his desire to build SI into a world-class college and his loving devotion to the students, the faculty, and the people of San Francisco.

(As an interesting aside, Fr. Maraschi spent some time surreptitiously tutoring a young woman, Charlotte McFarland, who had been orphaned in infancy and given over to her aunt to raise. That aunt was both staunchly anti-clerical and opposed to the formal education of women. Charlotte somehow contacted Maraschi who agreed to teach her to read. Charlotte had to hide her books from her aunt, who would burn them upon discovery. “But both Fr. Maraschi and my mother were persistent,” said Jack Gibbons ’37, Charlotte’s son. “She was an extremely bright woman who, later in life, would read the Wall Street Journal and the racing form every day. She thought the sun rose and set on Fr. Maraschi.”)