Catholic School in Indio, California

History

A Voyage of Discovery

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.

August 25, 1928
August 25, 1928

Franciscan Mission Establishment

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.
August 25, 1934
August 25, 1934

Mission Becomes A Quasi-Parish

With rapid growth in the Eastern Coachella Valley, the mission soon became a quasi-parish in 1934.

August 25, 1937
August 25, 1937

Mission Raised To Fill Parish Status

Due to the rapid growth in the eastern Coachella Valley, the mission was raised to full-parrish status in 1937.

Father Patrick Kenney became the first pastor in 1937 and served Our Lady of Perpetual Help until 1944.

Father Patrick Kenney oversaw the construction of the first church which began in 1937 and was completed the same year.

August 25, 1948
August 25, 1948

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 Catholic School. Within a few short year.

August 25, 1950
August 25, 1950

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.

July 25, 1951
July 25, 1951

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.

August 1, 1951
August 1, 1951

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.

September 11, 1951
September 11, 1951

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.

May 22, 1952
May 22, 1952

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.

August 25, 1958
August 25, 1958

Kindergarten Room Converted

In 1958, the kindergarten room was converted into alibrary and study area.

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.

April 29, 1960
April 29, 1960

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.
August 25, 1962
August 25, 1962

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.

August 25, 1978
August 25, 1978

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.
August 25, 1981
August 25, 1981

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 Episcopallan church, the rented space was located on Bliss Street and faced the parish church.
August 25, 1983
August 25, 1983

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.
August 25, 1987
August 25, 1987

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.
August 25, 1990
August 25, 1990

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.

August 25, 1995
August 25, 1995

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.

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.

August 25, 1996
August 25, 1996

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.
August 25, 2000
August 25, 2000

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.
August 25, 2001
August 25, 2001

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.
September 8, 2001
September 8, 2001

50th Anniversary

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, alumn.

February 25, 2005
February 25, 2005

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.
July 30, 2005
July 30, 2005

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.
August 25, 2006
August 25, 2006

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 anew intercom system.
May 25, 2007
May 25, 2007

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.
January 1, 2015
January 1, 2015

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.

June 1, 2015
June 1, 2015

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.
August 1, 2015
August 1, 2015

Construction Of New Preschool And Parish Center Building Begin

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.