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Immaculata School Celebrating Centennial Year

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Immaculata Catholic School in Durham is celebrating 100 years of Catholic education with events that began with the school year in August. In his homily at the opening Mass, Immaculate Conception Pastor Father Dan McLellan, O.F.M., noted, “It was service to the Durham community that brought Immaculata School to be and it is that continued service that is at the heart of Immaculata today.” He showed the parishioners a portrait of Msgr. William F. O’Brien, the school’s founding pastor and the first resident pastor of Immaculate Conception, where he served from 1906 until 1951.

The parish school, known then as St. Mary School, opened in 1909, staffed by the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Newburg, New York. Nine pupils were enrolled, but by the end of the first year 23 children were in attendance.

The school began in the little rectory now behind the church, but as it grew, it would move to successively larger buildings. In the 1940s, it was known as St. William’s School, perhaps after an Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago (another William O’Brien) who persuaded the Catholic Extension Society to pay for the purchase and renovation of a home for the school on Chapel Hill Street.  Construction on the current building on Burch Avenue began in 1994.

In 2004, construction began on the Emily Krzyzewski Family Center on land given by the parish.  The Center now serves the parish and the school, as well as the larger community.

Today 375 students attend Immaculata Catholic School.  The student population includes 74% Catholic, 21% non-Catholic; 60% Caucasian, 8% Asian, 10% Hispanic, 16% African American and 6% multiracial.

(Additional pictures of the school through the years are in the forthcoming issue of the NC Catholics magazine.)