The pastor, Msgr. Francis J. Byrne, and the parishioners of St. Bridget had a dream: To build a school. By the fall of 1951, Msgr. Byrne celebrated the successful completion of the campaign to raise the $125,000 needed to build St. Bridget School. He sought the support of each of the families of the newly formed St. Bridget Church, citing “the value of Christian Education in the shadow of the Church itself.”
Five Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary sisters came from their motherhouse in Tarrytown, New York, to start the new school. They were headed by Mother M. Gonzague, who brought with her Mother M. Patricia, Mother M. Presentation, Madame St. Jude, and Sister Inez. In August 1951, they took up residence in a house at 6007 Three Chopt Road, which had been purchased by St. Bridget for use as a convent.
Ground was broken for the school in January. After several construction delays, the new building was finally opened on October 6, 1952. During construction, classes had been held in the church basement. Now, 600 students could be accommodated in the 10 classrooms and two kindergartens of the new building. Additional classrooms on the second floor were completed the following year. Mother Presentation led a teaching staff of seven RSHM and seven lay teachers.
The student population of St. Bridget grew rapidly from 1956 to 1965, with the total enrollment peaking at about 1,400 students. A dozen school buses made double runs to and from the school each day.
We remember the generosity and guidance of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary sisters, whose faith and vision brought to life Msgr. Byrne’s dreams for the school. These women dedicated themselves to the spiritual and academic growth of all St. Bridget students. Through the years, thousands of students have learned by following the example of these remarkable role models. Their devotion still serves to inspire new generations of students and teachers.
We also remember with gratitude all the lay women and men who have served on the faculty and staff throughout our history. They were, and continue to be, role models of faith to whom the families of St. Bridget entrust their children.
No history of St. Bridget would be complete without acknowledging the invaluable contributions of Mrs. Polly Lacy and Mr. James Brown. Mrs. Lacy was the first school secretary, hired by Msgr. Byrne in 1952. She served in the office until her retirement in 1985. Mr. Brown came to St. Bridget as a construction worker in 1951. Msgr. Byrne persuaded him to stay on-which he did, for more than 40 years until his retirement in 1994. Their decades of devotion to the school and its students exemplify the heart and soul of the St. Bridget School tradition.
Thousands of students have passed through the halls of St. Bridget in the past 60 years. In the early days, it was not unusual to have 60 or more students in each classroom! Fortunately, those days are gone forever. We are now blessed with both the resources and technology to provide a rich, intimate learning environment for all students-today’s modern classroom is wired and connected to a worldwide community of learning. While concentrating on literature and the arts, math, science, and social studies, the foundation of the curriculum remains the spiritual formation of each student-as it has from the first day of classes.
Who can predict what the next 60 years will bring to St. Bridget School? Only one thing is certain: The tradition of a Catholic education will continue to connect each generation to the next, in faith, hope, and love.
Because of the faith and commitment of generations of St. Bridget families and parishioners, our most precious blessings-our children-will continue to grow in the light of the Lord for the next 50 years, and beyond.