History and Marianist Education

Archbishop Riordan is San Francisco's oldest all-boys high school. From the beginning, the school has served exceptional young men from diverse backgrounds. 

Riordan History

The Second Archbishop of San Francisco

Riordan was named in honor of Archbishop Patrick William Riordan, D.D., who served as Archbishop of San Francisco from 1884-1914.

As Archbishop, Riordan firmly established the Archdiocese of San Francisco through his building and restoration program and his support of Catholic education. During this time, his episcopate grew to approximately 75 schools, academies, and colleges with an enrollment of some 20,000 students. He also established an annual convention of teaching orders in 1894 and founded Newman Centers at UC Berkeley; Stanford University; and San Jose State College. By the time of his death on December 27, 1914, the number of parishes, clergy, educational institutions, charitable institutions, and religious congregations had all multiplied.

The Earthquake and St. James School

The Archbishop's devotion to Christ and the people of San Francisco was evident in a speech he gave to the people of San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake.

We shall rebuild. 'I am a citizen of no mean city', although it is in ashes. Almighty God has fixed this as the location of a great city. The past is gone, and there is no lamenting over it. Let us look to the future and without regard to creed or place of birth, work together in harmony for the up building of a greater San Francisco.

Under the Archbishop’s leadership, within two years all the earthquake damaged parishes, except for old St. Brendan’s, were re-opened. 

An unexpected outcome of the earthquake was the early arrival of Marianist Brothers teaching in San Francisco. After receiving good word of the Marianist Brothers serving at St. Mary's School in Stockton, Archbishop Riordan invited the Brothers to teach in the city. Though the Brothers were projected to join St. James School in the Mission District in 1907, in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake's dislocations, the Brothers began at St. James in temporary quarters. By April 1907, St. James School (affectionately known at “The Brickpile”) opened at 23rd and Fair Oaks Streets. And in 1920, a high school program was added to the school one class year at a time. 

With increasing demands for a larger boys high school in San Francisco, the Marianists closed the high school department at St. James in 1949 and moved to the newly constructed Archbishop Riordan High School. In the years since, Archbishop Riordan High School has educated and graduated thousands of men who have grown to assume prominent roles in their communities, influencing the lives of many.

Riordan I have found a place that enables me to do my best. The teachers and my Crusader brothers have motivated me to do bigger things than anything I imagined.

Learn More About Riordan's History

History of Archbishop Riordan High School adapted from Young Men Dream Dreams, 50 Years of Archbishop Riordan High School by Bro. William Bolts, SM ’53. Read the full text below.

About the Author

Brother William Bolts, SM, ’53 is a third generation San Franciscan who entered Riordan in 1949. He holds degrees from St. Mary’s College (bachelor), University of California, Los Angeles (master) and Carnegie-Mellon University (doctorate). He has done doctoral and post-doctoral research at the University of Notre Dame.

As a Marianist Bro. Bolts served as a teacher and administrator at Junipero Serra High School, St. Louis School, and Archbishop Riordan High School where he currently sits on the Board. Between 1982-1990 he served as the Assistant Provincial / Director of Education of the Province of the Pacific. Bro. Bolts is also the author of The Catholic Experience in America and St. John’s Parish on St. Mary’s Avenue in the City of Saint Francis, 1893 – 1993.

Riordan Presidents and Principals

Riordan Presidents

Father Thomas J. French, SM
2004 – 2010

Mr. Patrick W. Daly
2010 – 2012

Mr. Joseph M. Conti
2012 – 2016

Mr. Andrew Currier, Ph.D.
2017 – Present

Riordan Principals

Bro. John McCluskey, SM
1949 – 1952

Fr. Paul G. Kelley, SM
1952 – 1955

Bro. Maurice W. Miller, SM
1955 – 1961

Bro. Herman J. Gerber, SM
1961 – 1965

Bro. Maurice W. Miller, SM
1965 – 1966

Bro. Harold R. Hammond, SM
1966 – 1969

Fr. John E. McEnhill, SM
1969 – 1976

Bro. John J. Haster, SM
1976 – 1985

Fr. William A. O’Connell, SM
1985 – 1992

Fr. Timothy M. Kenney, SM
1992 – 2001

Bro. James Dods, SM
2001 – 2003

Mr. Gabriel Crotti
2004 – 2007

Mr. Kevin Asbra
2008 – 2013

Mr. Vittorio Anastasio ’84
2013 – 2017

Mr. Timothy A. Reardon
2017 – Present

Mary As Our Model

Archbishop Riordan High School is an Archdiocesan Catholic school in the Marianist tradition. Blessed William Joseph Chaminade founded the Society of Mary (the Marianists) in France in 1817. The order is distinguished by certain charisms, or gifts given by God for the benefit of the Christian community, that guide all Marianist ministries and programs in the U.S. and around the world. These charisms are to be People of Faith, Followers of Mary, People of Community, Discipleship of Equals, and Leaders in Mission. Education is the principal work of the Society, though a large number of religious are in other works of the apostolate such as preaching, parish work, orphanages, missions, and directing lay groups.

A Catholic Marianist high school fosters the premise of education as a transformative process. Rooted in the courage, spirit and compassion of our Blessed Mother, graduates of Archbishop Riordan High School become leaders and mentors in society.

Characteristics of Marianist Education

The Marianist spirit holds dearly the principle of the Golden Rule where students become scholars who embrace diversity, embody mutual respect, and lead by example. To accomplish this task, Marianist educators are entrusted to educate in five characteristics that guide the mission and philosophy of our school:

Faith Formation
Integral Quality Education
Family Spirit
Service, Justice & Peace
Adaptation & Change

Marianist Integration Team (MIT)

Members of the Marianist Integration Team (MIT) facilitate the school community’s understanding of the Characteristics of Marianist Education, integrating these ideals in all aspects of school life, including our boarding program.

Drawing on internal feedback, experience, assessment, and a variety of Marianist resources—including the Northern American Center for Marianist Studies, Office of Sponsorship, teacher education workshops, and networking with other Marianist schools—the team creates and implements detailed long-term and short-term strategic plans to enhance the Marianist spirit at Riordan.

Archbishop Riordan is part of a network of 18 Marianist secondary schools in the U.S. More information about the Marianists can be found at www.marianist.com.

A Brief Timeline

The Marianists arrive in California.

Archbishop Riordan receives good word of the Marianist Brothers serving in Stockton and invites them to teach in San Francisco.

The great quake happens in April and levels the entire city. The Marianists begin teaching at St. James.

St. James School opens a high school program.

The high school at St. James closes and Archbishop Riordan High School opens in San Francisco's Ingleside District.

Notable Alumni

Alton Byrd
Former Pro Basketball Player

Jimmie Fails

Donald Haderle
IBM Executive

Warren Hinckle
Political Journalist

Larry Jackson
Apple Music Head of Content

Kevin Restani
Former NBA Player

Joe Spano

Steve Sewell
Former NFL Player

Eric Wright
Former NFL Player