The History of Our Lady of Mercy
By definition the word history does not describe what Our Lady of Mercy School has experienced since it’s opening on September 27, 1959. The previous pastors, principals, teachers, parishioners and parents have left a legacy. The prayers and sacrifices of Our Lady of Mercy’s parish made the construction possible and the dedication of the Sisters of Charity of Providence and the Sisters of Mercy, as well as all the lay teachers since the beginning of the school have built a strong reputation for the school. An academic discipline combined with a “living” Catholic school community environment has allowed the school to achieve a balanced harmony.
OLM has often been faced with adversity beginning with the challenges of construction on what was then only swampy ground. But the nature of the parish and school community is to stand together and strong and within one year of the conception of the school’s construction both the funding and the facility were raised. It was OLM’s pastor Rev. James J. Corrigan, SPM, that organized the building fund committee and they in turn saw the short completion date as being a success. The estimated cost of the buildings was then $200,000.00 and a minimum of $60,000.00 had to be raised before construction could commence. The completion in such a short period of time was deemed a necessity due to the closure of Providence St. Genevieve School on 12th Street, between Edinburgh and London streets in New Westminster at the end of the 1958-1959 school year. At completion the school was a six-classroom facility that was designed to hold 240 students plus the supporting facilities (staff room, office, auditorium, etc.)
The school began in 1959 with three Sisters of Charity of Providence on staff: Sister Cecile of Jesus (Superior), Sister Mary Digna (Principal) and Sister Mary Laurent (Grade 1 teacher). Two Fathers of Mercy were in residence: Rev. James R. Roberts and Rev. Thomas P. Corcoran. In 1966 six sisters taught and worked at OLM School which is the highest number of sisters at any one time. Sisters Rose, Therese and Margaret left in 1991 and the Sisters of Charity of Providence order left the school and was replaced by the Sisters of Mercy order. The school has been blessed with many dedicated lay teachers over the years of which many of them spending most of their teaching career at OLM. Ms. Pfeiffer is one example coming to the school in 1961 and retiring at OLM in June 2004. Ms. Parappilly has celebrated 25 years of teaching at OLM, with Ms. De Souza celebrating her 25th anniversary in 1996. The dedication of the staff both past and current in building our children’s’ education is rarely seen in current times of continual change.
Additions and renovations to the school have been ongoing as the demands of the school continue to be recognized and met. The original debt of the school’s construction had been paid off while Fr. Gordon MacKinnon was pastor at OLM during 1979-1988. We continue to build and grow not only in the physical facilities but in the education and commitment to the children held within the community of Our Lady of Mercy School.