History and Heritage
In the late 1950s, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota sought to expand the number of Catholic high schools in the Twin Cities area. At this same time, Monsignor Joseph Lapinski, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Columbia Heights, purchased some land in nearby Fridley in the hope that the Archdiocese would build one of these new high schools there. Approval for a new high school in Fridley was soon given, and in 1965, the Christian Brothers accepted responsibility for administration of the school. The School Sisters of Notre Dame joined the Brothers in this task, and opened Archbishop Grace High School in September 1966, with 175 freshmen. The first graduating class was the Class of 1970.
From its very beginning, the Brothers and Sisters welcomed the presence of laymen and laywomen as their colleagues in every area of the school's operation. To this day, these men and women have provided the continuity of spirit and tradition that is one of the school's strengths. The school grew throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1970, the Christian Brothers informed the Archdiocese that they could no longer be personally responsible for the financial operation of the school, and a lay Corporate Board was begun to formulate policy for the school.
The school was originally named to honor Archbishop Thomas L. Grace, an early Minnesota bishop who was a pioneer in education. In 1980, the name of the school was augmented to Totino-Grace to honor the generous benefaction of Jim and Rose Totino, entrepreneurs in the frozen pizza business. Today Totino-Grace is one of the largest (with a student population of approximately 800) of the thirteen Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The school's long association with the Christian Brothers and its support of the Lasallian educational mission led Totino-Grace to declare itself to be a Lasallian School in 1997. Totino-Grace is now part of a worldwide network of Lasallian Schools with approximately 5000 Brothers and 70,000 lay colleagues teaching nearly one million students in eighty-two countries. Lasallian educators believe that to touch the hearts of the children entrusted to them is the greatest miracle of all.