Our school and church began as a small mission run by Franciscan priests under the auspices of the Diocese of San Diego. Now into the 21st century and under the Diocese of San Bernardino, we have grown to our present size of 3,300 registered families and approximately 250 students. Explore our story of growth and evolution as it began in 1928.
Franciscan Mission Established
Our Lady of Perpetual Help church and school is located in Indio, California. However, nearly 80 years ago, this site was smaller and housed a solitary Franciscan Mission. The mission had been established in 1928 and was under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of San Diego.
Mission Becomes a Quasi-Parish
With rapid growth in the eastern Coachella Valley, the mission soon became a quasi-parish in 1934.
Mission Raised to Full Parish Status
Due to the rapid growth in the eastern Coachella Valley, the mission was raised to full-parish status in 1937.
Father Patrick Kenny became the first pastor in 1937 and served Our Lady of Perpetual Help until 1944.
First Church Built
Father Patrick Kenny oversaw the construction of the first church which began in 1937 and was completed that same year.
Father Joseph Mackey Becomes Pastor
Father Joseph Mackey became pastor in 1948 and served until 1955. During his time with Our Lady of Perpetual Help he built the school and the convent. He was dubbed “the school man” due to his dream of building Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School. Within a few short years,..Read More
Construction of School & Convent Begins
The academic arm of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church is Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. Its inception started with Father Joseph Mackey dubbed as “the school man.” Seeing a need for Catholic-based education, Father Mackey dreamt of building Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. This idea, however, strongly..Read More
Construction of School & Convent Completed
Father Mackey’s dream of a new school was realized when construction of the school and convent was completed in 1951. The original school facilities consisted of four classrooms, a kindergarten room, and the school office. Other improvements came along as the years went by.
Sister Joanella Becomes First Principal
Through the efforts of Bishop Buddy and Father Mackey, the School Sisters of Notre Dame were entrusted to run the newly built school. In August of 1951, Sisters Joanella Bextermiller, Therese Mary Rebstock, Jeanette Marie Maniscalco, Mary Emil and Carol William arrived in Indio. Sister Joanella was the first principal..Read More
First Catholic School in Eastern Coachella Valley Opens Doors
On September 11, 1951, the area’s first Catholic school in the eastern Coachella Valley opened its doors to 218 students.
School Site Dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Following the opening of the school, Bishop Buddy dedicated the site to Our Lady of Perpetual Help on May 22, 1952.
Kindergarten Room Converted
In 1958, the kindergarten room was converted into a library and study area.
Father John Rhatigan Becomes Pastor
Father John Rhatigan became pastor in 1958 and served until 1961. During his time with Our Lady of Perpetual Help he built the new church which is still used today.
Present Church Solemnly Blessed & Dedicated
The 1940’s and 1950’s saw a continuation of the rapid growth in the area’s Catholic population and the original church could no longer keep pace with the liturgical and sacramental services. Father John Rhatigan built the present church, which is adjacent to the original church. The new church was solemnly..Read More
Motel on Park & Bliss Acquired & Converted
In 1962, a motel located on the corner of Park and Bliss streets was acquired and converted for classroom use. This new site became the primary location for first through fourth grades.
Diocese of San Bernardino Created
Our Lady of Perpetual Help migrated to the newly created Diocese of San Bernardino, which took over schools that were previously in the northern section of the Diocese of San Diego. As a result, the school’s reporting structure changed to fit new diocesan standards.
Kindergarten Program Reinstated
The school continued to grow in the 1970’s, and after a twenty-three year absence, in 1981 Our Lady of Perpetual Help School reinstated the kindergarten program by renting a classroom. Owned by the Episcopalian church, the rented space was located on Bliss Street and faced the parish church.
School Library & Kindergarten Class Moved
In 1983, the school library moved to a portable-trailer building on campus and the kindergarten class was moved into the former library, which was the original kindergarten site. As a result, the campus became cohesive once more.
Computer Lab Introduced
A computer lab was introduced in 1987. Housed in a small building on the same lot as the original rectory (located at 45-173 Park Street), it was another enhancement to the school’s academic program. Its introduction ushered in the school’s effort to educate students using modern technology. The computer lab..Read More
Two Additional Modular Units Leased
In 1990, the school was still growing and two modular units, which housed four classrooms, were leased with an option to buy in the future. The two units housed the primary grades and were adjacent to the former convent, which had become a parish office.
Physical Education Added
In 1995, a physical education teacher was added to the school staff and the portable-library building (trailer unit) was renovated and became the first P.E. office and equipment room.
Reverted to Individual Classroom Libraries
As a result of the addition of Physical Education which took over the library building, books from the library were distributed and all grades reverted back to individual classroom libraries.
OLPH Opens the Valley’s First Catholic Preschool
In 1996, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School renovated two of the original primary classrooms. Located between the office and student snack bar, the two rooms became one and reopened in October 1996 as the valley’s first Catholic preschool. 13 children were enrolled.
Tom & Rita Martin Committed to Improving OLPH
Our Lady of Perpetual Help School is a vital link to many people living in the eastern Coachella Valley. Support from families, friends, parishioners, alumni, and local businesses have helped the Indio school thrive. However, one couple in particular—Tom and Rita Martin—believe that each student deserves a high-quality environment in..Read More
New Computers & Equipment Purchased
The Martin’s tireless efforts became a reality in 2001 with the purchase of new computers and computer-related equipment for the computer lab.
On Saturday, September 8, 2001, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School celebrated its 50th anniversary. Approximately 450 people attended a celebratory event at the Esmeralda Resort in Palm Desert. In attendance were Sister Joanella Bextermiller, the school’s first principal, sisters from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, former teachers, alumni,..Read More
Preschool Increases Capacity
Needing additional space, one of the four modular units was renovated in February 2005 and this additional space increased the preschool’s capacity to 61 children.
New School Groundbreaking Ceremony
After many meetings with different stakeholders, OLPH hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a new elementary school on September 30, 2005. The Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes presided over the blessing of the school’s construction efforts and endeavors.
Additional Campus Improvements
Additional improvements were made in 2005 and 2006 following the renovation of the preschool. These improvements included upgrading the playground, repainting the school, refurbishing classrooms, and installing new air conditioning and heating systems, a security system, new fire alarms, and a new intercom system.
Students & Teachers Move Into New Complex
In spring 2007, OLPH students and teachers moved into their new two-story complex. A few of the original buildings remain and are used for various activities while the renovated motel houses the preschool. Some of the original classrooms, the original convent, and portables were removed from the site to make..Read More
Shea Family Committed to Improving OLPH
In January 2015, it is announced that the Shea Family has committed $4 million to build a brand new preschool building. After much discussion, it is decided that the new building with also house new parish administration offices. Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert commits to giving $500,000 to the..Read More
New Preschool and Parish Center Groundbreaking Ceremony
In June 2015, The Most Reverent Gerald R. Barnes presided over the blessing of the preschool and parish center’s construction efforts and endeavors.
Construction of New Preschool and Parish Center Building Begins
Construction on the new Preschool and Parish Center commenced in August of 2015 and is slated to be completed in the beginning of 2017. The new 19,316 square foot building will house several parish administration offices, 4 preschool classrooms, an indoor gymnasium, a stage, and a commercial kitchen.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help School is the only Catholic school in the eastern Coachella Valley. True to its mission statement and school philosophy, its greatest contribution to the community of the lower Coachella Valley, and the City of Indio in particular, is its commitment to provide an affordable, quality education in a Catholic and Christian setting that subscribes to the teaching of Jesus and His Church. Students are encouraged to be a responsible Christian, fully committed to living Christian morals and values, and living all aspects of his or her Catholic identity. These goals and objectives are at the heart of Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s educational system and pervade all areas of the school instruction and curriculum.