School History


The cornerstone of the first church of Our Lady of Sorrows was laid Sunday, December 21, 1888. The first church was dedicated September 22, 1889. A pretty frame structure, the new church was located on a slight elevation on the corner property of Academy and 4th Streets.

A year after the dedication of its church, the parish was ready to lay the cornerstone for its school. There had long been a school known as “St. Mary’s” on “Ward Lane” (now Ward Place) on property later acquired by Seton Hall College. Classes continued there until after dedication of the new school on Academy Street on June 21, 1891. By 1904, there were more than 1,000 parishioners in Our Lady of Sorrows parish; there were 250 children in the school.

On April 30, 1915, Rev. William Grady came to Our Lady of Sorrows to begin a pastorate of 31 years. Father Grady purchased properties on Prospect Street and Academy Street and launched a monumental building program. He erected a new school in 1921, a convent in 1926, the rectory in 1928 and the church in 1931.

100The current church is a monument to the vitality of Catholic life and culture in South Orange. It was dedicated May 3, 1931 by most Rev. Thomas J. Walsh, Bishop of Newark.

Rev. John Donnelly came to Our Lady of Sorrows in June of 1946. During his pastorate, Father Donnelly renovated the school, then 25 years old, and converted the basement of the church into an auditorium.

In 1953, Rt. Rev, Msgr. Justin J. McCarthy became pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows. Shortly after he arrived, the Monsignor was named Auxiliary Bishop of Newark. He planned and directed the construction of the $390,000 wing of the school. Bishop McCarthy dedicated the new wing of Our Lady of Sorrows School on September 14, 1957, constructed on the sight of the first parish church.

The Sisters of Charity of Convent Station staffed Our Lady of Sorrows School from its inception. In September of 1985, a new era began with the installation of the first lay principal, Stella Bisogno.

On Sunday, February 3, 1991, a special Centennial Liturgy was celebrated. It brought many significant people together, who had been involved with the life and mission of our wonderful school.

And during the 2015-16 school year, Our Lady of Sorrows School is very proud to celebrate our 125th Anniversary!