Galesburg Corpus Christi / Lyceum High School

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Galesburg Corpus Christi High School

Corpus Christi Church Front Entrance, 2005

The History of the Corpus Christi Lyceum High School 
Galesburg is an important railroad navagation point along the BN&SF railway and is also the birthplace of Carl Sandburg, a site of a Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and a temporary home for future President Ronald Reagan. Galesburg lies about 40 miles south of the Quad City Area and 40 miles west of Peoria on Interstate 74 and US 150.
Galesburg was one of the first cities in Illinois to support a public high school and a private high school: St. Joseph Academy, pictured above, was founded in 1879 opposite Galesburg High School, which was founded in 1863. The Corpus Christi Church was built in 1885 through the efforts of Father Joseph Costa, who founded the Academy. The Corpus Christi Lyceum, also pictured above, was built in 1895. The Corpus Christi School was a boys school and St. Joseph Academy was for girls.
For 50 years, the Corpus Christi School and St. Joseph Academy operated as two separate schools. In 1945, the two consolidated into the Corpus Christi building and it was renamed Corpus Christi High School. The St. Joseph building served children of elementary age until a new school was built in 1957.   Enrollment in Corpus Christi High School in 1958 was 326 students
In 1964, an effort was made to build a newer school on the northern part of Galesburg. This building was named after Father Costa and high school students moved from the Corpus Christi campus to Costa School. More information on the Costa School system is also listed on this site.
The Corpus Christi and St. Joseph buildings are no longer standing. Corpus Christi was torn down in 1965 and St. Joseph in 1972.
Corpus Christi / Lyceum High School Quick Facts
Year Church opened:                             October 4, 1885
Corpus Christi in Latin Means:            "Body of Christ"
Founder:                                                   Father Joseph Costa, I.C.
Religion:                                                   Catholic, Corpus Christi Parish
Year Lyceum opened:                            September, 1895 (Boys)
Year Consolidated with St. Joseph:    1945
School in 1945 renamed:                      Corpus Christi High School
Year Corpus Christi HS Closed:         1964
Building Status:                                       Torn down in 1965
Corpus Chrisit HS Moved/Renamed: Costa High School
School Nickname:                                 Friars
School Song:                                           Not Available
School Colors:                                        Red & White

Corpus Christi Church


Corpus Christi School offered athletics to their young men. Basketball, Baseball, Football and Golf were for sure offered. Track and Field and Cross Country may have also been offered. Information is limited on the history of Corpus Christi (and St. Joseph) athletics. Corpus Christi was a member of the Illinois High School Association.

Boys Basketball
Boys Basketball was offered at Corpus Christi. Evidence of the earliest teams can date back to 1925. Two of the games that year were played against Kewanee High School. In the first games, Kewanee won 18-10, but in the second game later that season, Corpus Christi came back to score a close win against the Boilermakers, 21-20.
Coach Jim Murphy left his mark as a basketball coach at CCHS, taking three consecutive teams to the National Catholic (Prep) Basketball Tournament in 1938-39-40, after finishing second in the state Catholic school tourney (mind you, the IHSA didn't allow private or parochial schools into their organization until 1941). These games were played in Chicago, hosted by either Loyola or DePaul.
Previously in 1934, the Irish (as they were called prior to 1938) were Catholic State Champs, and won their first two games at the National Catholic tournament. Coach Harry Bell directed that team to a 27-2 finish. Several of the key players for the '34 squad include Carl "Red" Thielbert (who was all-tournament at both the state and national tournaments), his brother Ralph, Bill Foley, Marv Seastedt, and Bill Bowen. An excellent artilcle on this team written by Tom Wison of the Galesburg Register newspaper can be read at:
In 1953-54, the Friars won their only basketball Regional (, defeating Cambridge 61-55, Galesburg 51-48, and Oneida ROVA 53-52 to take home the regional plaque. Coach Bob Drolet's team was led by captain George Bednarcik, Tom Belezos, Joe Mills, Gene Mellican, Chuck McGeary, and Dan Foley. The win over Galesburg was the first-ever in 13 meetings (at that point) for Corpus Christi, and all three victories came on consecutive nights...from behind each time!
(Source of ALL of this information is courtesy of "Joe's Back with
Sports Memories" by former Galesburg Register-Mail sports editor (and Corpus Christi grad) Joe was published in 1993).

1953-54    N.R.A.     Galesburg Regional Champions     Coach Bob Drolet
                                 1st Rd Beat Knoxville 76-40
                                 Semi-final Beat Galesburg 51-48
                                 Title Game Beat ROVA 53-52
CORPUS CHRISTI (53): Bednarcik 19, Belezos 11, Mills 9, Mellican 8, McGeary 4, Foley 2.
ONEIDA ROVA (52): W. Cree 18, Rednour 10, G. Cree 8, Turner 6, Harpman 6, King 2, Murdock 2.
                                 Macomb Sectional Tournament
                                 Semi-Final lost to Monmouth 73-45
                                 Monmouth lost to Bowen in title game
MONMOUTH (73): McLoskey 22, Simonsen 17, McKee 14, Galusha 13, McBride 3, Olson 2, Haase 1, Spiker 1.
CORPUS CHRISTI (45): Bednarcik 13, Mills 10, Belazos 7, McGeary 5, Milligan 4, Foley 2, Soule 2, Ringheim 1, Hund 1.                     
1963-64                            Knox Co, Tourney Champs      Coach Rex Davis

Corpus Christi Basketball Program Cover 1943
Submitted by Bruce Firchau

Corpus Chrisiti vs. Peoria Spaulding 1943
Submitted by Bruce Firchau

Football was also offered at Corpus Christi and evidence of their earliest teams can be traced back to as far as 1927. After that, we are uncertain of it's history and are hopeful that they have had some good battles with Galesburg High School and/or the Knox College secondary teams.
According to research by our own Kev Varney:
The school offered football and even had an undefeated season in 1947, going 8-0 for coach Mike Esposito. The 1939 Friar gridders were undefeated and untied (no record known) going into the final game, where they lost to Rock Island St. Joseph (now Alleman), 6-0. Jim Murphy was the coach of the '39 team. Also worthy of mention is the 1927 team, which was undefeated with one tie. Some other records of the better Corpus Christi seasons between 1958 and 1963 are listed below as well thanks to the research of Tom Sikorski.

1927                     Undefeated / untied 
1939    1 Loss    Lost final game of season             Coach Jim Murphy
1947    8 - 0                                                         Coach Mike Esposito
1958    3 - 3 - 1                                                    Coach Jim Pogue
1959    3 - 3                                                         Coach Maynard Luetkehans
1961    6 - 2                                                         Coach Jim Phalen
1962    5 - 3        (first year in Little 6 conference)    Coach Jim Phalen
1963    5 - 4                                                         Coach Rex Davis
Baseball was a summer sport at the time Corpus Christi was in existence. The earliest team can be traced back to as far as 1947 when they played in a game against Lewistown and fell to them 2-1 on two occasions.

Boys Golf
Of all the sports offered at Corpus Christi, Golf took home the most notoriety. In 1958, back when Boys Golf was a spring sport (as opposed to it being a fall sport today) Corpus Christi won a District Championship and qualified for the state tournament.
1957-58       N.R.A.        District Champions
                                     IHSA State Qualifiers        Coaches name unavailable
Diocesan Music Festival
Corpus Christi High School was the host of the Tenth Annual Diocesan High School Music Festival on May 1, 1958.  The Festival was hosted by Corpus Christi at the Cathedral of St. Mary, in Peoria, with rehearsals and some performances at the Spalding Gymnasium. 
Seeking Your Assistance
As you can see, we are in need of a few things. We are especially interested in more clubs and activities offered at both Corpus Christi and St. Joseph Academy as well as coaches and athletes and famous alumni. Personal memories are also a must have...they make this site a special one.
More information is being sought about the schools. Corrections are welcome as well. If you have more Information about the schools, including photos, nickname, other great sports athletes and other great teams and high school memories you would like to share please drop us a line at:

Or you may also write us at:
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago,  IL  60631