Religion and Education both played an important role in the early days of Stephenville Crossing, as it did in many other settlements across the island.
The first small school for R.C. children was opened in a priviate dwelling in January of 1902. The school remained at that location for 5 months. At that time, a suitable piece of land was donated by a resident and a 42′x 20′ building was built, with free labour being provided by the local residents. Miss Bride Joy, who was a certified teacher, was placed in charge of the school. There were 30 children in attendance at that time. The building which was 2 stories, had 2 classrooms on the bottom floor, one for Grades K-8 and the other for Grade 9 to 11. Mr. Herman Parsons remembers that the High School students had the smaller of the two rooms. The senior students also used the upper story for some subjects, such as latin.
The upper story of the building was used as a hall and for church services. Father Adams would come to the Crossing about once a month and would stay in the top floor during his stay. At that time Stephenville Crossing was a mission of Stephenville Parish. The hall was used religious services and for community functions such as concerts. This school remained in existence until 1938, when the new school was build on Hospital Road.
The new school was built on property owned by Alex Cobb, close to where a new church would eventually be built in 1957. The school was single story and had 5 classrooms. The top floor held four of the classrooms and the basement was used for Kindergarden students. In the early years of the school there were as many as 200 students.
The first resident Roman Catholic parish priest was Rev. J.C. Stoyles, who took possession of Assumption Parish August 28, 1937. A presbytery was built and Father Stoyles took up residence in November 1938. A church was also completed on West Street in 1938. This church was used until 1957. Father Stoyles remained as priest until the 1950′s.
Father Stoyles held great store in the education of the youth of his community, the rewards of which can be seen today in the high standing the schools in Stephenville Crossing have attained.
During his term of ministry in the “Crossing”, as the people of the area refer to their community, he had patiently awaited the opportunity of placing his school and the training of the children under the guidance of the “sisters”.
Reverend Stoyles had a new convent built and on November 20, 1950, the “Sisters of Mercy” took up residence and duties in the parish. The first community of sisters were Mother Superior M. Fidelis Parsons, Sister M. Zeta Hyde, Sister M. De Lourdes Carroll, Sister Marie Michael Power, and the Sister M. Louise Power. The primary role of the sisters was to maintain a high academic standard, and to bring religion closer to the lives of the children. During their time at Stephenville Crossing the Sisters also visited the sick, both in their homes and at the local hospital.
The Sister’ mandate expanded in September 1962, when under the principalship of Sr. M. James Reid, Assumption Central High School was opened.
This service continued until June 1994, when Sister Patricia Mahar(principal) retired from the teaching profession thus ending 44 years of dedicated service by the Sisters, to our community.
The Convent remained in use until July of 1984 when the remaining Sisters were moved to St. Michaels Convent in St. Georges. The convent building was renovated to accommodate the St. Georges R.C. School Board Offices and was used as such until the board offices moved to Stephenville. The building was later torn down.
In 1957 the new Church of the Assumption was built. The first couple to be married there in August of that year were Joan Abbott and Joseph Kent.
A new elementary school was built in 1976 and the old St. Michaels School was then dismantled. In June of 2001 Assumption High School closed its doors for the last time. Children of High School age now travel to Appalachia Central High in St. Georges.
The Anglican Church has also played an important part in the development of the community of Stephenville Crossing. The first All Saints School was built on Main Street in the early 1900′s and a second larger school was also constructed on the same spot sometimes before 1940. All Saints Church was built in 1928, across the road from the school. The church which is still in use, stands today almost unchanged and is quite beautiful. The interior of the church is covered almost completely with wood and the stained glass windows are in an immaculate, original, condition.
At the back of the church grounds, lies the original graveyard with headstones from the early 1900′s.
In 1957 a new k-11 All Saints School was built and remained in existence until 1968, when the All Saints students relocated to Assumption High School.