History of Saint Mark Parish


“Mother Church of Bucks County”

St. Mark Parish can aptly be designated the “Mother Church of Bucks County.” It is the oldest Church in the county, and its original territory encompassed so large an area that eventually twenty-one parishes were established from it. On September 18, 1846 the cornerstone of our parish was laid. After many hardships and growing pains, the parish continued to expand. As the industrial life of Bristol began to grow, so did St. Mark Parish and the importance of a school was immediately seen.

During the latter half of the nineteenth century, our school evolved from a small one-room type setting to a fully staffed facility. From 1864-1867, a school of sorts was conducted in the parish house under the direction of Miss Hannah V. McAran. It was a temporary and insufficient measure. Under the pastoral leadership of Reverend John J. Ward, St. Mark School was formally established. Property was acquired on Radcliffe Street and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary came to Bristol on October 17,1887 to begin the education of our children. The formal blessing and opening of St. Mark Parochial School was on December 27, 1887.

For the next half-century, the growth of the school enrollment paralleled the expansion of the population in Bristol and its surrounding areas. The development of Levittown began to have direct effects beginning in 1952, when one hundred and thirteen youngsters were registered for first grade. The building was filled to capacity until new parishes were formed and Catholic schools were erected throughout Bucks County. Church officials labeled the aging and overcrowded school a crisis situation. The parish purchased riverfront property in anticipation of erecting a new school, but Archdiocesan officials had not yet authorized a building project. Parishioners loyally met and voiced their concerns to continue a parish school. Over nine hundred parishioners signed a petition and sent it to Archbishop Krol, but the Archdiocese felt they were forced to close the school. Children from St. Mark and St. Ephrem School in Cornwells Heights would go to the newly constructed St. Ephrem School. Both parishes would support St Mark-Ephrem School. And so on Friday, June 13,1969, the old St. Mark Parochial School closed its doors permanently. The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were to remain at St. Mark convent and be joined by the sisters from St. Mark-Ephrem.