In 1922, a year after Immaculate Conception Church was built on the
corner of Rozelle and Central Avenue, the Sisters of Mercy founded
Immaculate Conception Elementary School, housed within the three-story
parish building. The following year, the school incorporated a
co-educational high school, and the parish church, elementary, and high
schools shared the building, which today holds only the elementary
school. The Sisters of Mercy maintained educational responsibility for
the schools until 1990, at which time they entrusted the schools to the
parish, dedicated laity and alumni. The spiritual and educational
influence of the Mercy charism is still strong on campus. The campus
still celebrates “Mercy Day,” and several campus buildings bear the
names of Mercy Sisters.
In 1950, Monsignor Merlyn F. Kearney, pastor of Immaculate Conception
parish, received permission from Bishop William L. Adrian to convert
the co-educational high school to an all-female student body. In the
fall of that year, 32 freshmen and sophomores were enrolled. The crypt
of the church was converted into an auditorium and temporary gymnasium
to accommodate the rapid increase in high school enrollment.
As enrollment topped 350 young women in 1956, Monsignor Kearney
announced plans to construct a separate high school facility on the east
side of the campus. The seven classrooms and science laboratory were
completed in 1959. Enrollment steadily increased, and by 1975 the high
school physical plant consisted of four buildings including a full
gymnasium, administrative offices and a library.
In January 1971, the newly formed Diocese of Memphis designated
Immaculate Conception Church as its Cathedral, or “mother church,” The
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. During the 1980’s, the
elementary school became known as “The Cathedral School.”
Growth in the elementary program continued with the addition of
kindergarten in 1988 and a pre-school program for 3 and 4-year-old
children in 1994. From 1993 until 2003, elementary grades were for male
and female students; the Middle School was incorporated into the High
School (females only) program. In 2003, Middle School once more became
part of the Elementary School’s responsibility and was again open to
male students. During the 2007-2008 school year, sixth-graders became
part of the Middle School.
In 2002, Cathedral Rector Reverend Val Handwerker, who previously
served as the school’s first president on an interim basis, formed the
Immaculate Conception Cathedral School Board. That same year, the
elementary and high school merged once again and became Immaculate
Conception Cathedral School, grades Pre-K3 through 12. In the fall of
2008, Reverend Handwerker petitioned the Diocese of Memphis to designate
the campus as a “unit school,” recognizing the connection between
elementary and high school as one campus with one mission and vision.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral School is the only parish high school in
the Diocese of Memphis.
ICCS accreditations include memberships in the Southern Association
of Colleges and Schools and the National Catholic Education Association.