History of St. James
On October 14, 1882 the Reverend James Devine was appointed the second resident Pastor of Saint James the Less Church in Woodbridge. With the new church just completed the Pastor turned his attention to the opening of a parochial school. He consulted his Excellency Bishop O'Farrell who recommended that he apply to Reverend Mother Mary Regis Wade for Sisters of Mercy to staff the school. His request was granted.
Reverend Mother Mary Regis appointed Mother Mary Joseph O'Donohoe as Superior and Sister Mary Baptist Meehan as one of her assistants. Sister Mary Josephus O'Neill must have come to Woodbridge mission within a few years of its opening but was not among the assignees in 1890.
The old church had been converted into a three-room school. Grades one through eight were offered from the beginning. The initial enrollment of the school was approximately one hundred to one hundred twenty-five students.
In addition to teaching the required subjects, the sisters taught music, singing, needlework, drawing and painting. In accordance with their rule, they also visited the sick and the poor, and gave religious instruction.
It is interesting to note that the first two graduates of the school became Religious. Richard Ryan became the Reverend Richard Ryan, and Ellen Holohan became Sister Mary Cyril of the Sisters of Mercy.
As time went on and enrollments increased additional classrooms were needed. In 1921 there were two schools, one a converted hall on Amboy Avenue and Second Street. The second school on upper Main Street housed fourth through eighth grades. Even in 1924 when a new school was erected, the two buildings mentioned continued to be used for school purposes.
The school continued to grow and in 1954 the Right Reverend Charles G. McCorristin, V.G. added to this school, the addition including six class-rooms, a kitchen and cafeteria, a basement, rooms for the Principal and clinic and a library.
Currently our school houses over two hundred and fifty students from Pre-K 4 year olds to 8th grade. (2016-17)