In 1955, Bishop James A. McNulty initiated a program to establish Catholic high schools in each of the three counties of the Diocese of Paterson – Sussex, Passaic, and Morris. His recognition of the shortage of secondary schools and, more important, the pressing need for Catholic education, proved visionary, especially in Sussex County. A site was selected in the Township of Sparta, and groundbreaking ceremonies for the future Pope John XXIII Regional High School were held in 1956.
During construction, thirty-six freshmen convened in the activity hall of Our Lady of the Lake Church, Sparta. The following year, ninety students were accommodated by St. Joseph School, Newton. The blessing and dedication of the completed high school, originally named Our Lady of the Lake Diocesan High School, was held on February 2, 1958, and second semester classes began in the new facility. Upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Department of Education, the school received accreditation in December 1959 and five years later was renamed Pope John XXIII Regional High School by Bishop James J. Navagh in memory of the beloved pontiff.
While our enrollment, physical plant, curriculum, athletics, and extra-curricular activities have dramatically expanded since the first class graduated in 1960, Pope John’s legacy of academic excellence, community service, and spiritual growth remains the same. Blessed with an abiding mission and a unified administration and faculty, Pope John attributes its success to the many men and women who have made Catholic education their vocation.
The future remains very bright as Pope John continues to attract exceptional teachers, administrators, staff, and, of course, students, all striving to be “An Honor to the Father.”