The parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin was established on the south bank of the St. John’s River in the autumn of 1913. The first Mass was offered in a rented store. The original Assumption School was constructed at the corner of Gary and Naldo Streets in 1923. This first school was quite small and accommodated 110 students. Classes were taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine. In 1948, while Father James Cloonan was pastor of the parish, land was purchased on Atlantic Boulevard. The existing building on the property, which was formerly the Merrill-Stevens Shipyard Administration Building, was converted into a school. This new Assumption School opened in September 1949 with 317 students. It also operated under new leadership provided by the Sisters of St. Dominic from Adrian, Michigan. In 1954, the Florida State Road Department acquired the property on Gary Street, and, in 1955, the present Assumption Catholic Church was built on property adjacent to the school. The growth of the parish and school continued, and, in 1958, the convent was constructed making space available for six additional classrooms. In 1965, under the leadership of Monsignor Harold Jordan, the fifth through eighth grade classrooms (Barry Hall) were built along with the Parish Hall (Jordan Hall). These additional buildings allowed the school to convert the old auditorium into a library and media center. Monsignor Eugene Kohls became the Pastor in 1977. During his time at Assumption, a new Activity Center (Kohls Hall) was built freeing the Parish Hall (Jordan Hall) for school use. A preschool for three and four year olds was implemented in 1986, and in 1996, the original school building was completely renovated and updated. Father Fred Parke became Pastor of Assumption Catholic Church in 2002. He came to Assumption from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Palm Coast. Father Parke began the Heritage and Horizons building campaign shortly after coming to Assumption. This campaign has led to further growth and development of Assumption campus over the last 15 years including, but not limited to, the Family Life Center, which opened in August 2008.
The Florida Catholic Conference first accredited Assumption in 1973 as one of the original schools to receive accreditation. The school has maintained this accreditation status up to the present day. The Assumption faculty and administration have also changed dramatically since the school started. In the early years of Assumption from 1923-1969, the principal and teachers were primarily nuns. Sister Patricia Eileen Consier was the last principal who was a nun. Since 1977, the principal has been a lay Catholic. Today, the teaching staff and principal are mostly lay Catholics. In the fall of 2006, under the guidance of Father Fred Parke, Assumption was blessed with four Sisters of the Home of the Mother, an order from Spain. Although they are not a “teaching order”, they do add a special dimension to our faith formation and spirituality. They visit the classrooms each week, accompany students in weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and have added two days of retreat and recollection to our school year. They help ensure Christ is the center of every aspect of education, religious formation, growth, and character development.
In conjunction with Assumption Catholic Church, Assumption Catholic School was blessed with the addition of the Early Childhood Learning Center in August 2016. The preschool offers full day, half day, and part time programs for infant’s ages 6 weeks through PreK-4. The preschool originally opened in 1986 under the direction of Principal Dr. Fred Lichtward. The preschool started with one PK3 class and one PK4 class. The Assumption preschool began to grow quickly and the following year added one PK2 class. The Assumption nursery opened nearly 20 years ago that served the children of teachers and staff. The Assumption school was thrilled to share this blessing with the rest of our Christian community and enjoy providing a whole child approach to education with these little ones with the opening of the Early Childhood Learning Center!
Assumption is one of the oldest parochial schools in Jacksonville. The Assumption community looks forward to the future knowing that the school has been built on a solid foundation with principles and values that remain unchanged in an ever increasing, changing society.