September 30, 1955, Archbishop John Mark Gannon established three new parishes in the Diocese of Erie, one which was St. Jude the Apostle Church. Archbishop Gannon quietly purchased 9 acres of land bound by Lowell Avenue, West 6th and West 8th Street.
Fundraising efforts of every type were undertaken by early parishioners. Using the lawns of homes of parishioners, they hosted festivals, ice cream socials and countless other efforts to raise funds for the land which would become the site of the future school and parish. The pastor of St. Jude, Msgr. Thomas Griffin, was a driving force in these efforts. Msgr. Griffin’s belief and commitment to Catholic education allowed for the foundation to be laid and a journey to begin. A journey with the support and dedication with the Sisters of St. Joseph leading the way.
On May 1, 1958 less than three years after the parish was established, ground was broken for the parish school. Plans called for the building to be constructed in two stages – the auditorium and the main wing completed first and occupied, and the north wing to be a shell and to be completed as needs arose. Just prior to the opening of the new St. Jude’s School in 1959, the Diocese informed the parish,that the school would serve as a combination for both St. Jude and St. Julia’s Parishes, and it would be renamed “Our Lady’s Christian School”.
The Sisters of St. Joseph staffed the school as administrators, teachers, cooks and housekeeping. The “former” Sister Beatrice Marie Bricher served as Principal in 1959. Together, the Sisters of St. Joseph along with the many devoted parishioners of St. Jude’s and St. Julia’s allowed for the parish children to have a school they learned to love and enjoy.
The school took off with enrollment in the 1970’s under the steady hand of Sister Mary Rita. During the 1970’s and 1980’s almost 500 children attended Our Lady's Christian School. Overcrowding forced the location of the Kindergarten and Preschool programs in the rectory basement. OLCS was the only school in the diocese without a cafeteria. In 1986, Msgr. Henry Kriegel reached out to the parishioners for a place for the children to eat. The Parish Center was built which allowed for children to enjoy school lunches with their classmates.
Msgr. Robert Brugger joined our parish school in 1998. The school’s enrollment remained steady but there was a need for more to allow Our Lady's Christian School to remain financially secure. In 2005 Our Lady's Christian School was the first school within the Erie Diocese to implement the offices of Marketing and
Advancement Offices. Our Lady's Christian School developed a Strategic Plan to enhance the school’s academic programs and focus on the spiritual, community and financial needs of the school. The Strategic Plan along with the generosity of many philanthropic donors welcomed the Enrichment Math Program. In 2007, a new all-day preschool was introduced for 4/5 year olds. In 2006, St. Andrew’s School joined the Our Lady's Christian School family. The St. Andrew’s families were a welcome addition and they truly supported Catholic education.
In 2009 OLCS celebrated 50 years; many cherished the memory and commitment from those before who believed in a dream and made the dream become a reality.
In 2017 the Diocese of Erie replaced the independent, parish based schools with the Erie Catholic School System. The new Catholic School System renewed focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) across the curriculum through new science labs, improved access to technology, an emphasis on problem solving, and teamwork. Our Lady's Christian School was renamed St. Jude School with a renaming ceremony where the new logo was revealed. The new logo depicts fire and water, both symbols of our new patron saint, Jude Thaddeus.
Today St. Jude School stands tall and proud. With enrollment over 400, we welcome all who have the willingness to learn and support the mission and vision of St. Jude School. Our families and staff volunteer endless hours to build our school community and allow for only the best for students and teachers.
Thank you to all who have made and continue to make St. Jude and its mission possible.