In 1994, in the midst of the parish’s celebration of its centennial, then Bishop of Fall River, Massachusetts, Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap, invited the parish to consider opening a parish school. Plans were already being made to expand the existing Parish Center to accommodate a fast-growing religious education program. Then Pastor, Rev. Peter Graziano convened a committee appropriately named COPE (Committee on Parish Expansion) to assist in the modification of the plans to accommodate a school.
COPE, with the help of a statistician from a local college, developed a feasibility study, the results of which showed a tremendous desire for a school. Once COPE finished its work, new Pastor, Rev. George Bellenoit formed three new committees. These committees would focus on 1) fundraising (managing the capital campaign) 2) building (working with the architect/builder to complete a needs assessment), and 3) school planning (planning for opening day). Each committee was distinct and communications between them was critical and ongoing.
The dedication of the Pastor, the work of the committees, and the support of many generous parishioners led to groundbreaking in June 2000. Many individuals, families, and local businesses gave time, talent, and treasure to the building of a beautiful, state of the art facility and to the development of a safe and comfortable environment where students can flourish. Many have been the hands and feet of Christ in serving the mission of the Church at St. Mary. “Go and teach all Nations.” was engraved on the cornerstone of the building. The dedication of the building included participation of adults and children involved in the ministries that gather in the new education center.
St. Mary Catholic School opened its doors wide in a warm welcome for its inaugural year in September 2002. The school adds a new dimension to the parish, and the parish makes this school unique and special.
In 2002-2003, the school opened with seventy-four students in kindergarten through grade four, and a staff of fourteen (five full-time Teachers, five part-time Teachers, three support staff, and one administrator), the first year of the phase-in. Once at full capacity, the school will serve two hundred twenty-five students (one class at each grade level, kindergarten through grade eight).