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RCS History


1877 - Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes - First Catholic school in Rochester

The Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes was founded by Mother Mary Alfred Moes in December of 1877. Classes opened with approximately 210 female students in attendance. The school was staffed by six Franciscan Sisters with Mother Mary Alfred working as the director.


1882 - St. Mary’s Hall
The Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes continued to grow and in 1882 the need for a second addition became necessary. The sisters purchased a building at the corner of 1st Avenue and 6th Street and named it St. Mary’s Hall. The school was owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes.


1888 - Saint John’s Grade School
A south wing was added to Saint Mary’s Hall in 1888 which accommodated girls in grades 1 through 8. Housed in Saint Mary’s Hall, the school became Saint John’s Grade School.


1899 - Saint John’s Parish School
St. John’s Grade School was taken over by St. John’s Parish and became known as St. John’s Parish School. This was the beginning of the elementary co-ed education.


1913 - Heffron High School for Boys and St. John’s High School for Girls

Brothers of the Christian Schools were the faculty for the new high school for boys. Sisters of Saint Francis taught high school girls at the St. John’s High School housed in Saint Mary’s Hall.


1925 - Saint John's High School

The two separate boys and girls high schools became one co-educational institution housing students in grades 7-12, and taught by the Sisters of Saint Francis (the Christian Brothers had left Rochester). The former Heffron building was converted into an elementary school housing grades 1-6.


1942 - Lourdes High School

A newly constructed building located on the corner of 7th Avenue and Center Street named Lourdes High School opened in January of 1942. Enrollment totaled 260 students. The choice to name the new institution of learning “Lourdes” gave promise that the school would operate according to the sound educational philosophy established by the Franciscan Sisters and continue the noble traditions characterized by Rochester’s first Catholic academy founded in 1877.


1952 - St. Francis of Assisi School

St. Francis of Assisi parish, located in the southeast quadrant of Rochester, opened its school for children in grades K- 6. By the time grades 7-8 were added in 1959, the enrollment was 1,015 students.


1956 - St. Pius X School

St. Pius X School opened in 1956 for students in grades 1-8. The school opened with 325 students in a two story building with the Sisters living on the second floor. Enrollment grew so quickly that within five years it more than doubled to 700 students, and the parish built a convent for 18 Sisters.


1958 - St. John’s School
St. John’s School was torn down and re-built in 1959.


1991 - Rochester Catholic School system
A landmark decision was made in 1991; the Rochester Catholic Schools formed a Rochester Central School Board and dissolved individual school boards .The new Rochester Catholic Schools system (RCS) includes Lourdes High School, St. John the Evangelist School, St. Pius X School, St. Francis of Assisi School, and since 1993 Holy Spirit Catholic School.


1993 – Holy Spirit Catholic School
Holy Spirit Catholic School opened in northwest Rochester in the fall of 1994 for students in grades K-3. The final phase completed in 1999 expanded space to include Kindergarten through grade 8. Preschool classes for students age three and four year olds were added in 2008.


2013 - Newly Built Lourdes High School

Due to age and dynamic educational demands, Lourdes was faced with a challenge to re-build. Over the course of five years, Rochester Catholic Schools completed its first ever Catholic capital campaign raising over $15 million to make possible Rochester Catholic Schools' new “state of the art” high school. The new Lourdes High School building and campus is located at the corner of 19th Street and Valleyhigh Drive NW.


2019 - New Middle School
The Co-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Middle School was re-purposed into a middle school fall of 2019, now serving grades 6-8. In addition, Holy Spirit Catholic School and St. Pius X School both changed their offerings to serve students PreK-5 to correspond with the creation of the middle school.