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Saint Joseph High School for Boys

[Editor’s Note: The following history of Saint Joseph High School for Boys was written by Marguerite B. Lyons and is taken from the souvenir program celebrating the 60th anniversary of Saint Joseph High School in 1988.]

The history of St. Joseph High School for Boys, though interrupted several times, goes back to 1907 and to the late Brother Priscillianus, F.M.S., who came to Lowell in 1892 with the first contingent of Marist Brothers who came here at the request of the late Rev. Andre Marie Garin, O.M.I., to staff Le College St. Joseph.

Brother Chryseuil, F.M.S. who headed that first contingent of Marist Brothers was one of the most outstanding members of his congregation whose sterling reputation as educators is known throughout the world.

Brother Priscillianus succeeded Brother Chryseuil as director of Le College St. Joseph and in 1907 introduced the academic courses of high school studies according to the curriculum of the province of Quebec with supplementary business training.

As one of the many sad results of the financial crisis of that era, the high school course was discontinued in 1910. A decade later the high school courses were resumed in September of 1920 by Brother Marie Florentius, F.M.S., and in 1928 a sophomore class was opened with a registration of 32 students.

This course included typing, and bookkeeping, the latter being discontinued in 1924 to make way for a course in physics. The entire course was kept general, to facilitate the transition for students having to go to Lowell High School for their junior and senior years.

In 1928, the Brothers obtained the necessary financial means to add a third year class to the high school, this achievement being listed as one of the many attributed to Brother Francois Regis, F.M.S., director at that time.

The year 1929 was a dark and very uncertain one for the Brothers and their dear College St. Joseph. Due to serious difficulties between parish authorities and the Brothers, because of the contracts of the latter, a complete reorganization of the school was begun under the supervision of Brother Marie Petrus, F.M.S., the newly assigned director.

The third year of the high school division was discontinued as was the commercial course. Only two Brothers remained to teach the freshman and sophomore classes.

With the dawn of 1930 came the onslaught of the Great Depression and the inevitable closing of St. Joseph High School for Boys. This loss of the people of St. Jean Baptiste parish and to the Franco-American population of Lowell was keenly felt by The Oblates and the Marist Brothers who had worked so hard to maintain the high school despite so many reverses.

No one felt this loss more keenly than Father Bachand who vowed to do his utmost to reopen the school as soon as possible.

In 1934, Rev. Emile Bolduc, O.M.I, then pastor, convinced that a high school for boys was an absolute necessity, re-opened it. Brother Boniface, F.M.S., was named director. The Brothers decided to change the curriculum and offer the courses taught in their New York high schools. Brother Louis Viateur, F.M.S., a veteran in the field of education came to Lowell in 1941 and took charge of the French department, remaining in that position until his retirement in 1959.

In 1966, SJHS became a co-educational institution, the site of which was the renovated College St. Joseph on Merrimack Street. Direction of the school was entrusted to the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa.

Courses continued at SJHS for boys until 1969 when the Marist Brothers left Lowell to concentrate their efforts in the field of education at the high school and college levels elsewhere in this country.

In 1975, when St. Jean Baptiste parish found it impossible to continue its financial support, it became necessary to make changes. The school then became known as St. Joseph Regional High School and opened its doors to boys and girls of the entire Greater Lowell area.

Since 1975, when the school became non-affiliated with any specific parish it has been operating under the administration of a board of directors consisting of local professional and business men and women and it is staffed by a faculty of Sisters of Charity of Ottawa and lay teachers.

Looking back over its 60 silvered, gilded and bejeweled years St. Joseph High School under the direction of the Beloved Sisters of Charity of Ottawa can certainly glow in its well earned and deserved reputation of being an institution of high school education second to none, equal to the very best, and superior to many.

The record shows that 120 graduates of SJHS, following their college education, have joined the ranks of teachers throughout the country. It shows that 110 have chosen careers in the field of medicine, and a score or more are engaged in Social Work. Of the 28 graduates who have responsible positions in administration, three have returned to Lowell, where one is administrator of St. Joseph Hospital, one has served and one is presently serving as administrator of D’Youville Manor. Hundreds of SJHS graduates are in important positions in the various fields of the business world as well as in the arts and on the political scene, and hundreds have served in the armed forces.

St. Joseph High School for Boys has also given some 60 vocations to the priesthood and a score of more to the brotherhood. Many are in the fields of medicine, teaching, research, business and private enterprise, the media and all the professions.

Another very important group, in which the greatest number of SJHS graduates will be found is in that ultra special vocation of parenthood, a vocation that provides the daily opportunity to share with their children the treasures of the Catholic and bi-lingual education, the sense of values, the appreciation of ethnic cultural and heritage, the spirit of patriotism and the wealth of knowledge they received at their beloved Alma Mater.

[Editor’s Note: Bear in mind that what you have just read was written in 1988. Today, in March of 2003, Lowell Regional High School, along with a number of other Catholic secondary schools was absorbed and metamorphosed to become what is now known as Lowell Catholic High School located at 530 Stevens Street in Lowell. For more information, please click on to their web site at the following address:]