The history of St. Patrick's Catholic Church and School is a fruitful one, full of sacrifices, joy and peaceful celebration. It all started with Archbishop Joseph P. Hurley who was inspired by a movement of the Holy Spirit to bring the Eucharist to North Jacksonville. In 1958, it was evident that the Northern part of Duval County needed a Catholic Church. Catholics who lived here visited Holy Rosary and Our Lady of the Angels, or even took a long trip downtown to Immaculate Conception. The Archbishop decided that the north was where the growth would be in Jacksonville and purchased 39 acres of land to build a church. At the time, the far-seeing Archbishop's plans were to build not only a church, but a school, social hall and eventually a Catholic high school. Archbishop Hurley needed a gregarious pastor to make his plans a reality. He turned to a priest just recently arrived from Ireland, Father John J. Lenihan.
It must have appeared to be quite a challenge to Father Lenihan. In 1959, there was no Interstate 95, and the closest main roads were U.S. Route 1, Lem Turner Road and Main Street. The property was nothing more than pine trees, bushes and vines. Father Lenihan grasped his duties quickly and took up residence in a house on Loyola Drive. He knew that his mission was awesome, and that he needed help - and quickly. For that, he turned to the Catholic women of the new parish. He asked them to form a group and survey the area for Catholic families. The women took off aggressively, literally going door-to-door in search of Catholics and informing them that a new parish was planned, and that a new church was to be erected. The response was fantastic. Catholics from all over North Duval County gathered together. Father Lenihan began celebrating Mass at the Civic Center at Ray Greene Park and, periodically, at the Ribault Lions Club. Two months later, Archbishop Hurley made it official. On January 13, 1959, the parish of St. Patrick's was born; there was much work to be done.
The tireless new pastor completed his plans for a new church to be built. He gave the parish a wonderful Valentine by officially breaking ground on February 14, 1960. Three other priests were present with Father Lenihan for this historic occasion. Soon after, the building committee began to act. A dinner was held in the Civic Center to raise funds for the new church. The whole community came, excited to be part of a new parish. One of the first members of St. Patrick's, Jim Phelan, thought it was ill advised to build a church off Broward Road. "I remember going out to where they were to build the new church and shook my head. I looked out over the pine trees and bushes and said to myself 'these people are crazy!' It looked nothing like it does now. But when the construction began, things changed. I remembered stopping by to look at the construction every day. It was like having a new house. I watched them build it day-by-day. It was exciting to watch the church grow and grow! We were so happy to be getting our own parish community. We used to go to Holy Rosary, St. Matthew's and Immaculate Conception for Mass; now we had a church of our own!" Mr. Phelan related how exciting it was to think of having a convenient church in his own family's backyard. His wife, Rita, echoed his feeling, "It was exciting and fun to be a part of the parish. We knew what was going on and wanted to be a part of it. I couldn't go door to door for Father Lenihan, because of having four young children to take care of and Jim having to work nights. But we gladly attended church and did what we could."Finally after months of planning and fund raising, the new church was dedicated.
The first Mass was said in the church on July 10, 1960. Although the parish was grateful to the Civic Center and the Ribault Lion's Club for the use of their facilities, the parishioners were very happy to have a place they could call their own. Jim and Rita Phelan were filled with special pride. Their son, Michael, was the first child to be baptized by Father Lenihan at St. Patrick's.
We, at St. Patrick's, believe that the needs of each student can best be met through the positive interaction of home, school, church and community. Our philosophy affirms the belief of American Bishops that "Community is at the heart of Christian education, not simply as a concept to be taught, but as a reality to be lived." St. Patrick's provides a nurturing, loving atmosphere.
Students are given an opportunity to learn on an intellectual, emotional and social level to live and serve in a Christ-like manner. We believe that the love of Jesus is experienced through people and that students should feel they are a part of a supportive community of teachers, parents and friends.
We provide a variety of activities to foster an attitude of self-respect and self-worth in each student allowing each to set and achieve goals. We believe in the principle of discipline with dignity. Students are treated with respect and compassion so they learn justice and fairness.
Our academic goals are to provide students with the knowledge, strong values and skills that will enable them to continue their education and succeed in the future. We are committed to educate students of diverse backgrounds, respecting that diversity. We endeavor to lead the students to a deep devotion to Christ through an awareness of Him, His life and His teachings. St. Patrick's fosters a desire to continue this devotion to Christ and share it in the spirit of His love.