SAINT BRIDGET CATHOLIC SCHOOL HISTORY
In the late 1940s, the pastor (Msgr. Francis J. Byrne) and the parishioners of Saint Bridget Church had a dream- to build a school. By the fall of 1951, Msgr. Byrne had successfully completed a campaign to raise the $125,000 needed to build Saint Bridget Catholic School. Throughout the campaign, he sought the support of each of the families of Saint Bridget Church, citing “the value of Christian Education in the shadow of the Church itself.”
Five sisters from the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary 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 Saint Bridget Church for use as a convent.
Ground was broken for the school in January. The new building was finally opened on October 6, 1952. During construction, classes had been held in the church basement. Now, up to 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 lay teachers.
In 2015, Saint Bridget Catholic School purchased the timeworn Westhampton Baptist Church building and converted it into Saint Bridget Middle School. The program would start in the 2016-2017 school year after extensive renovation at a cost of over $4.5 million. The restored church building would house nine classrooms, a science lab and a collaborative work room. “The location is very conducive. The building is conducive to our needs, and there is an element of restoring a building and bringing it back to life that is a historic landmark in Richmond.” principal George Sadler said.
We remember the generosity and guidance of the RSHM 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 Saint Bridget School 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 Saint Bridget community entrust their children.
No history of Saint Bridget School 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 Saint Bridget School as a construction worker in 1951. Msgr. Byrne persuaded him to stay on-which he did, for more than forty years until his retirement in 1994. Their decades of devotion to the school and its students exemplify the heart and soul of the Saint Bridget Catholic School tradition.
Thousands of students have passed through the halls of Saint Bridget over the years. In the early days, it wasn’t unusual to have sixty or more student 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 foundation of each student-as it has from the first day of classes.
Who can predict what the next 65 years will bring to Saint 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 Saint Bridget families and parishioners, our most precious blessings-our children-will continue to grow in the light of the Lord for the next 65 years, and beyond.