Our Lady of Refuge Church was established on May 10, 1948 by Father Hugh Vandenbergh, its first pastor.  It was a small parish of 127 families, but it was growing rapidly as post World War II subdivisions spread throughout the Long Beach area.

One of the first considerations of the founding parishioners was to establish a school where their children could obtain an excellent education in Catholic Christian teachings and academics to  prepare them for adulthood.

The construction of a parish school and convent was completed in 1952. The school was staffed by the Sisters of St. Louis, under the leadership of its first principal, Mother Callista. The Sisters’ Charism “Sint Unum- May they all be one,” is evidenced by the kind and welcoming nature of our community of believers.

In September of 1953 the school welcomed its first students. Since then we have grown a student body of approximately 250- holding the same values we were built on, partnered with an innovative STEM program.


The principals who have served Our Lady of Refuge Catholic School since its founding in 1953 are listed below.

  • Sister M. Callista Gildea, SSL (Sister Elizabeth Gildea, SSL)
  • Sister M. Dorici O’Driscoll, SSL
  • Sister M. Dolorosa Minogue, SSL
  • Sister Sheila Jordan, SSL
  • Celia McCabe
  • Theresa McDonagh
  • Sister Anna Marie McLaughlin, RSC
  • Mary Enos
  • Carolyn Horeczko
  • Dr. Joan Bravo de Murillo, Ph.D.
  • Tricia Holmquist
  • Donnie Green
  • Margaret Kennedy