1940s - A Time of Increased Growth

1940s - A Time of Increased Growth

The World War II years brought many families to the Washington area. Father Mullarkey realized the rapid growth that the Falls Church area was experiencing.   Suddenly there was not enough room in the school with the growing number of families in the parish. To meet the immediate needs, every measure was taken to keep pace with the increasing number of children who sought admission to St. James School. First the stage in the auditorium was turned over to the Sisters for an additional classroom.  Sister Severa was assigned to teach a 6th-7th grade class on the stage, behind which was located a small kitchenette. During this time of cramped quarters, it was common to hear someone ask her: “Sister, is that textbook stored in the oven or in the refrigerator?” Next the auditorium, the parish center for meetings and activities, was partitioned into several classrooms.  Even these measures could not keep pace with the growing enrollment.

With this increasing appeal for admission of children to the school and conscious of the crowded conditions, Father Mullarkey oversaw the acquisition of additional land adjacent to the school at a cost of $11,500.  The land was immediately cleared.  In 1944 Father Mullarkey celebrated his 25th Jubilee of Ordination and put War Bonds he received from grateful parishioners towards building two new classrooms.  A new building, detached from the school, was erected with two new classrooms entered from the outside. The war years had come and it was difficult to obtain building materials such as steel and cement.  But with considerable effort these two classrooms were completed and became the first classrooms of our present day school:  the recently redesigned Computer lab and a Robotics lab established this year.


Pictured above: The Sisters of St. James School, 1942 
Front center (l-r):  Sisters Calista and Theresia

Middle row (l-r):  Sisters Robertine, Mary Hugh, Dorothy, Bon Secours, Mother Clotildis (Principal) and Sr. Bernard Marie.

Back row (l-r): Sisters Mary Adelaide, Mary Christopher, Maria Carmen, Miriam Cephas and Maria Martin


Since their arrival at St. James in 1923, the IHM Sisters have held a beloved place in the heart of our parish.  Found in the church history files was this charming story told by Kathleen K. Wells recalling memories for the parish’s 100th Anniversary.  Kathleen entered the first grade in 1923 when the IHM Sisters first came to St. James:  “The Superior I remember best was Mother Clotildis.  Each of us has a favorite memory of her.  Mine happened during the World War II years.  Supplies were hard to obtain for the Sisters and the School.  One day Mother Clotildis and a companion traveled to the Commissary at Fort Myer to obtain supplies.  They were stopped at the entrance by an authoritative sergeant who told her everyone entering had to wear a uniform.  Mother looked him in the eye and said in an equally authoritative voice, ‘What do you think I am wearing?’  She got in.” 

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