History of Our Lady of Mercy School
Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, located on the south side of Winston-Salem, was begun as a response to the migration of many people from the North to new work assignments at the Western Electric Lexington Road Plant in the city. The year was 1954. In August 2011, a Director of Advancement and Development was added to the staff. Friar Bill was transferred to Chapel Hill, NC in August 2014, and Friar Carl Zdancewicz became Our Lady of Mercy's newest pastor.
Monsignor Francis K. O'Brien, the first pastor, received a letter from the Most Reverend Vincent S. Waters, Bishop of Raleigh, establishing the boundaries for Our Lady of Mercy. At the time of the establishment, there were just a few parishioners but in the first year the number grew to 235.
On September 22, 1957, Bishop Waters dedicated the building, containing a church which was in the basement of the structure, an auditorium on the second floor, and the parish school. Present at the dedication of the Church was the Right Reverend Michael J. Begley, who eventually became the first Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte. At this time, the services of the Sisters of St. Joseph from Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania were obtained to staff the school.
In 1967, during the tenure of the fifth pastor, Monsignor Lawrence Newman, the parish lines were redrawn by Bishop Waters and more people enrolled in the parish. One of Msgr. Newman's great tasks was the effort to reduce the debt (at that time $450,000.00) which the parish had to face. Being a proponent of Catholic Schools, Msgr. worked to increase the number of Catholic students and was responsible in the enrollment of 340 students into the limited quarters. He also arranged for the installation of four trailers to hold the overflow, as well as the use of the auditorium stage, the sacristy, and the basement of the convent to take care of the increase.
The auditorium was turned into a gym so that the school children would have a sheltered area for basketball playing. It was proposed that the parish would move to another area, but no firm decisions could be made.
In 1975, Father Joseph Kerin, who later became Rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral and then Chancellor of the Diocese of Charlotte, assumed the responsibilities as the sixth pastor. Father Kerin's pastorate continued to work with the growing parish and the debt, which, by this time, had become manageable.
In September 1977, Father Ed. Sheridan became the seventh pastor. During his tenure, the parish undertook a study for facilities development. As yet, the parish has not resolved this issue. The school, however, continued to move forward to provide quality Catholic education.
In February 1984, Father Ed, along with a search committee, hired the first lay principal, Mrs. Sandra McMonagle. Three Sisters of St. Joseph continued to teach in Our Lady of Mercy School, while two other Sisters ministered in the field of Religious Education and Social Services. Father Joseph Mulligan, the eighth pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, arrived in July 1984 and provided leadership to the Mercy school community in a variety of ways. Along with Father John Hanic, the priests were present especially in the worship life of the school. On August 13, 1987, Father Canice Connors, O.F.M. Conv., and a small group of Franciscan Friars began their mission at Our Lady of Mercy.
Our Lady of Fatima Chapel became a part of this mission with Father Edgar Holden, O.F.M. Conv., as director. Our Lady of Mercy celebrated a milestone on January 15, 1989, when Bishop John Donoghue dedicated the Monsignor Newman Center, housing three classrooms and various offices and rooms in honor of Monsignor Lawrence Newman. In January 1992 Father Conall McHugh replaced Father Canice as pastor. In 1998 Fr. Joseph Madden replaced Fr. Conall and in March 1999, Fr. Joseph Angelini became pastor.
Father Denis Hackett became the pastor in 2001. In July 2002, Friar Bill Robinson replaced Father Denis as pastor.
In August 2002, a second kindergarten class was opened.
On November 22, 2002, the school moved from the Banner Avenue location to the renovated former Bishop McGuinness High School on Link Road.
In 2003, there was a need to double some classes. In 2006 a Pre-K was added. At the conclusion of the 2006 school year, Mrs. Sandra McMonagle retired after 22 years of Principalship. She was succeeded by Ms. Cheryl Zuiker. Sister Geri Rogers, SSJ became principal in 2007.
The school has developed a regional flavor with students coming from many neighboring parishes. In the days ahead, the parish school of Our Lady of Mercy hopes to carry on the past tradition and develop an even richer one.