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In 1929, the then, Diocese of Galveston-Houston purchased six acres to start a new parish community in Southeast Texas. This new Church, located in Houston’s Riverside Terrace community, was named St. Mary of the Purification Catholic Church. The area surrounding the peaceful wooded church grounds would soon become home to St. Mary’s School. A temporary school building was erected in 1930 and opened September 8th with an enrollment of 35 pupils. The blessing of the old school building took place October 27, 1930. The Sisters of Dominic staffed the school until it closed in 1967. St. Mary’s school reopened in 1980 and adopted the Montessori System based on learning methods and styles developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. The school is recognized as the only African-American Montessori School in Texas.
On April 5, 1929, Monsignor M.J. Daly was appointed the first Pastor/Administrator of the school. He was followed by Father Dexter George in 1960. Father George was succeeded by Father Frederich O’Connor until 1968 when Father George Swilley became Pastor/Administrator in June 1968. In 1968, Father John LaBauve, SV.D. became the first African-American Pastor/Administrator. Father Charles Leisring, SV.D. replaced Father LaBauve in 1973. In 1975, Father George Artis, SV.D. became the Pastor/Administrator. It was under the leadership of Father Artis that the Montessori School, was opened in 1980. Father Artis served until1984 when Father William Feldner, S.V.D. became Pastor/Administrator. Father Michael Fritzen, S.V.D. became the Pastor/Administrator in July 1996 until he was replaced by Father Francis Alvin Dixon in 1999. Father Dixon was replaced by Father F. Borgia Aubespin, S.V.D. in 2001. Father Aubespin was replaced in 2014 with Father Justin Arockiasamy, S.V.D., the current Pastor/Administrator.
Sister Edna Herbert, O.P. was the principal when the school was reopened in 1980. Mrs. Rose Ellis (the first lay principal of the school) succeeded Sister Herbert in 1985 and was principal from 1985 to 1994. Ms. Erin Smith followed Mrs. Ellis as principal in 1992 and served in that role until 1995. Dr. Mae Smith became principal in June of 1995. She was succeeded on July 2003 by Mrs. Mazie S. McCoy who served as principal until 2014. In 2014, Sister Odessa Sandford became principal. She was succeeded by Mrs. Natalie Garrett in 2016. In 2018, Mrs. Lois Goudeau took the charge of becoming St. Mary’s eighth principal.
St. Mary of the Purification Catholic School is one of thirteen inner-city schools governed by the Office of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The school is sponsored by St. Mary of the Purification Catholic Church. The school has adopted the Montessori System based on learning methods and styles developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. The school is recognized as the only African-American Montessori School in the state of Texas. It primarily serves the Greater Houston, Harris and Fort Bend Counties, Texas.
St. Mary of the Purification Catholic School has full accreditation from the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department which is recognized by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as the official accreditation agency for Catholic Schools in Texas. St. Mary’s is under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston School System and is affiliated with the American Montessori Society, Texas Association of Non-Public Schools, National Catholic Education Association, National Association of Mathematics Teachers, National Association of Science Teachers, and National Association of Elementary School Principals.