Our History

Saint James Church began as a mission in the late nineteenth century. In a Gadsden Times article dated June 9, 1876, Will I. Martin wrote, “Mass was said in the home of James Lellande by Father Kerwin, for twenty Catholics of the community.” The church was built in 1885 and was given its first resident pastor on June 1, 1912.

Reverend Oswald P. Stahl in his 1912 report to the Bishop stated that there were 470 Catholics in the parish. He rented a house for a parochial school the same year, and Saint James Catholic School began its mission. The first staff was formed by Benedictine Sisters from Cullman, Alabama.

The first parish-owned school building was built adjoining the church in 1913. At this school there were four Benedictine Sisters teaching eighty-eight students. The four Benedictine Sisters taught until 1915 and were replaced by the Sisters of Divine Providence. In 1925 the Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity taught 32 children. This order of Sisters administered and taught at Saint James Catholic School until 1960. The Irish Sisters of Mercy were the next order at our school along with the first lay teacher.

Saint James Catholic School was relocated to a six acre campus in a parish built school building in 1961. The Irish Sisters of Mercy remained until 1971 when the Daughters of the Holy Spirit from Connecticut took over administration of the school. The first Parish Board of Education was formed in 1972 and is now known as the Parish School Council. In 1975, for the first time, Saint James Catholic School had an all lay staff for administration and teaching. Our school continued with a lay staff until 1981 when the Benedictine Sisters of Cullman, Alabama, sent two sisters to be the principal and secretary.

Saint James Catholic School was moved to its present location in 1985. The Benedictine Sisters continued administering the school, and it became a K-4 through eighth grade school. In 1991 the Benedictine Sisters left. This was the second time in the school’s history, there was an entirely lay staff.

The Benedictine Sisters returned with two sisters the next year as principal and religion instructor. Sister Cecilia MacDermott remained principal until 2004. In 2002 a retired Sister of Mercy, Sister Barbara Anne, began working as our librarian.

Saint James Catholic School presently teaches three year old kindergarten through eighth grade. The school received full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2006. Soon after, the school welcomed the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word as catechesis instructors. In 2012 the school celebrated its centennial anniversary.