When the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration from New Orleans arrived at St. James Parish, the old two-story Sherwood home was completely furnished and waiting for the Sisters. It was Holy Week of 1906 and in keeping with their order’s Rule, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament began the next day. The Sisters settled in and began preparing for the opening of the new Catholic elementary school in September.
Though comfortable in the cottage, it was not sufficient to house the Sisters assigned to St. James. The Sisters purchased property adjacent to the church, and with Father Tearney’s blessing and support, began drawing plans for a new convent. The Convent of Perpetual Adoration was completed in 1907 and included a Chapel and boarding school, the Academy of Perpetual Adoration. The Sisters agreed not to accept the parish students into the Academy. The Academy enrolled boys from the surrounding areas of Fairfax and Vienna into the elementary school, the high school accepted only girls. Tuition was $1 per month for the grade school and $2 per month for the high school.
With the growing Catholic population in Northern Virginia, enrollment in both St. James School and the Academy increased. By 1919, the Sisters had to limit admissions to the Academy because of limited room for accommodation. Both St. James School and the Academy were “building up a most excellent reputation” as Father Tearney wrote to Bishop Denis J. O’Connell.
Although St. James School and the Academy were doing well, the Sisters were experiencing problems. Distance from their motherhouse and other factors caused the Sisters to close the Convent of Perpetual Adoration on July 1, 1923 and return to New Orleans.
Then Pastor Father Van Ingelgem spent anxious weeks searching for another religious congregation to continue the work of education at the parish. After trying weeks with little success, Father Van’s prayer was answered when a religious congregation from Immaculata, PA agreed to come to West Falls Church. In August 1923, Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary arrived in Falls Church.