Saint Therese Catholic Church was founded in 1924 when the Order of Discalced Carmelite Friars of the Irish Province came to take charge of the new parish. The parish of Saint Therese was the first parish in the world to be named after Saint Therese of Lisieux, who at that time had just been beatified and was known as Blessed Therese of the Child Jesus. Our church was dedicated to Saint Therese just twenty-seven years after her death, before she had been officially canonized.
The Friars quickly recognized a need for a school. In February 1926, the plans were authorized for a church-school combination building, designed by Architect Ross Montgomery. Saint Therese Carmelite School was established in 1926 while the Archdiocese was under the leadership of Archbishop Cantwell. Like the parish, the school was the first school in the world to be named after Saint Therese of Lisieux. Construction was completed at a cost of $69,000. At that time, the school was on the ground floor, and the church on the upper. In its first school year, September of 1926, the school enrollment was fifty-three students. By 1927, as many of the faithful relocated to Alhambra to take advantage of the new school, enrollment grew to 185, with two grades per class.
The Dominican Sisters were in charge of the school until 1930, and after an extensive search, the Sister of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods in Indiana consented to staff the school, which they did until the 1980’s, when the teacher population shifted to mostly lay teachers.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the parish community erected a new church designed by architect J. Earl Trudeau. The old church then became the Parish Hall; and the former Hall was transformed into two classrooms and a small meeting room. Due to increased school enrollment in 1960, the old school and hall were demolished, and the construction of the present school classrooms and Parish Hall began.
The current classrooms are located in a section of the school which was completed in 1964 along with the Parish Hall. A new building was completed in 2000-2001 which currently houses the front office, library, teacher’s lounge, science room, Atrium, and the Kindergarten classroom.
The Discalced Carmelite Friars, under the direction of the current pastor of the church and school, Fr. Phillip Sullivan, began a complete transition in 2015 to the classical educational model.