St. Mary’s Cathedral School swung open its doors in 1939 to two hundred and thirty students. St. Mary´s has been a school that rightfully belongs to the Mother of the Archdiocese. Over the past half-century, the school has opened her arms; and welcomed children to a place of safety, goodness, and refuge.
In the early 1960s when the first wave of Cuban political refugees came to Miami seeking freedom, St. Mary´s was a major point of entry and the school adapted. While classes were taught in English; Spanish rang out in the classrooms and in the playground. In the late 1970s Haitian migrants began fleeing Haiti’s political dictatorship. Many Haitians escaped Haiti hoping to find political and economic justice. Spanish began to fade as the secondary language and a new language and culture emerged. Today, St Mary’s student population consists of a variety of nationalities from the Caribbean, the Americas, and the Middle East.
The school began with grades one through eight, and a teaching staff of eight Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine. Through the many changes, and challenges the sisters remained, as the one constant; embracing the children of God. The school added a grade each year and from 1944 to 1953 a thriving high school emerged. In 1953, the high school was discontinued in order to open separate high schools within the diocese.
While recognizing the economic constraints of maintaining a Catholic school, the Sisters and clergy, made the choice to resist making St. Mary Cathedral unaffordable to low-income or disadvantaged families. The Archdiocese has generously supported this challenge. In the summer of 2007, the Sisters of St. Joseph withdrew from ministry in the Cathedral parish. The Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary were assigned to St. Mary Cathedral parish and school and presently reside at St. Mary’s Convent.
Today, St. Mary Cathedral School is a Kindergarten to 8th-grade Catholic school within the Archdiocese of Miami. The school received its first accreditation by the Florida Catholic Conference in 1959 and has continued to be certified by the Florida Catholic Conference. The rich tradition of the Catholic faith and quality education continues to this day. St Mary’s Cathedral School has been and continues to be “A Harbor of Hope and a Beacon of Light” to the community it serves.