The founding Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church, Father Louis E. Marionneux envisioned a school where the children could learn the values of the church and family while getting a solid foundation for their further education, as well as their spiritual growth. Turn the pages of the school’s history forward, and you arrive at its present mission statement simply stated: “Our Lady of Mercy School provides Catholic foundations for a life of prayer, knowledge, and service”. The early vision for Our Lady of Mercy School has remained at the foundation of its success, as it continues to provide foundations that serve our parish and community with exceptional educational opportunities. The parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy Church faithfully proposed and built an elementary school, and have helped maintain the high level of spiritual and academic excellence throughout its history.
By early 1953, Our Lady of Mercy was ready to break ground for the construction of the first permanent building for the parish — a parochial school. When the school opened in September 1953, the school attracted national attention as being the only Catholic school to have an all lay faculty.
Mrs. Hazel Blanchard was named principal and school opened with 174 students in grades first through fourth. While the first school building was under construction, temporary quarters were found for the classrooms and the Boy Scout Hut. The next spring the permanent school was available, and the formal dedication of the school was held on May 2, 1954. The Our Lady of Mercy School had eight classrooms, an office, a teachers’ lounge, and first aid and supply rooms as well. Two other buildings were later added increasing the number of classrooms to twenty.
Ground breaking for a new church/classroom building took place on November 21, 1955. The 15,500 square foot structure included a church/classroom with a capacity for 1,100 worshipers and each side of the church building would have three classrooms. Long range plans for the building called for it to be converted to a gym-auditorium when a permanent church was constructed. Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel dedicated the church/school on September 24, 1956.
The church was quickly outgrown. Classrooms along each side of the church were joined to the church by windows which were opened during Mass to allow parishioners to sit in the classrooms rather than stand in the back of the church. As a result, the school resorted to holding classes in such places as temporary buildings, the old church which had been divided into classrooms, the gym/church building, the pastor’s dining room, the principal’s office and the reception room. Nevertheless, such difficulties did not lessen the enthusiasm of the parents or enrollment in the school.
In late 1961, Our Lady of Mercy welcomed four Salesian Sisters, known as Daughters of Mercy, Help of Christians. Sister Theresa, Sister Elba, Sister Gloria and Sister Raphael assumed duties in connection with the school. These four Sisters from Cuba, would be the forerunners of others who would follow to serve Our Lady of Mercy School for the next 30 years. The Sisters lived in a house across the street from the Main school building, and while learning English, they helped with religion classes and helped with duties in the school.
After ten years of leadership as principal, Mrs. Blanchard resigned her position, leaving the school’s leadership to a new principal, Sr. Philomena. For a decade, Mrs. Blanchard had made wonderful contributions to Catholic education.
On March 1, 1964, Father Andrew Frey was assigned to Our Lady of Mercy Church as its second Pastor. Father Frey directed a series of changes and improvements to the church and school to expand and upgrade all facilities to meet the growth of the parish during his time as Pastor. Improvements to the school were varied and began with the transformation of Marquette Avenue, a former dirt road, to a blacktopped road with sidewalks and gutters.
In 1982 a major school improvement plan was begun to increase the capacity of the school The first new building, constructed across the street from the main building and adjacent to the convent, would be the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten. When school began in 1983, kindergarten and first grade classes were held in the newly constructed Early Childhood Center.
After 25 years of dedicated service, Monsignor Frey retired as Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy. In June 1987, the parishioners welcomed their third Pastor, Father Michael Moroney. Father Mike was a gifted administrator and an ambitious builder. In 1992, under the guidance of Fr. Mike and the Parish community, the School Board began working toward the development of a master plan to address the growing needs of the school. Also at this time, after 30 years of faithful service to Our Lady of Mercy School, the Salesian Sisters made the decision to concentrate their resources in other areas of education. Ms. Donna Melancon was hired as the school’s principal, and helped lead the school family through the transition. In 1995, the school's new principal, Mrs. Carolyn Guidry, began to build on the foundation laid by her predecessors.
A parish-wide fund raising campaign began in 1994 to raise the funds required to begin the work on the school proposed by Father Mike and the Building Committee. An excess of two million dollars was raised and the improvements to the school included renovations to classrooms and administrative offices, new eighth grade classrooms, a new library, a computer lab, a science lab, and a cafeteria. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new construction were held on October 23, 1995. With the extensive work completed, the doors of the school were opened with the new construction by the fall of 1996. The new buildings were officially dedicated on October 19, 1996. With this project complete, the dream for Our Lady of Mercy School had become a reality. Our Lady of Mercy School was now prepared to face the challenges of the New Millennium.
Father Mike remained as Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy until his new assignment in 2001. Mrs. Guidry retired as principal in May 2009, and at that time Ms. Tina Villa began her role in that position at Our Lady of Mercy School. Ms. Villa served as principal through the 2011-12 school year.
Since 2001, Our Lady of Mercy’s fourth Pastor, Father Miles Walsh, has continued to faithfully support the early vision for the school. Mr. Brian Moscona, began his role as principal of Our Lady of Mercy School July 1, 2012. (Click Here For Bio.)
Remaining as a constant is the strong partnership built between the parish church and school.
We share our school’s history with pride, and anticipation of many more years under the loving protection of our patron, Our Lady of Mercy. Sources for this account of the school’s history included the 1997 Our Lady of Mercy Church Pictorial Directory, as well as archival records, booklets, articles, and photos located in the library of the Our Lady of Mercy Parish Activity Center.