St. James Catholic School was established in 1965 at the request of Pastor James Munnelly. With the recommendation from the Bishop of San Diego, Father Munnelly invited four Sisters of Mercy from Sligo, Ireland to staff the parish school. Sister De Chantal Finerty was the first principal of Saint James Catholic School. The Sisters of Mercy continued to serve as school administrators until the 2000-2001 school year, when then principal, Sister Mary Francis Coleman, was called to serve as Chancellor to the Bishop in the Diocese of San Bernardino.


The Sisters of Mercy continue to influence and bless the St. James community in a parish ministry capacity. The school has been founded and imbued with the spirit of founder Mother McAuley, in living the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in the Perris Valley community. The school began with six grades, first through sixth. Each year, grades were added to accommodate the population desiring a Catholic education.

Today, St. James Catholic School serves students in grades Transitional Kindergarten through eighth grade. The parish school serves many parishes in the Hemet Vicariate. The surrounding communities and the local public school district warmly support the school. St. James Catholic School is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Western Catholic Educational Association. St. James Catholic School takes pride in “Lighting the Way to a New Century so that Lives are Filled with Hope.”


St. James the Less Catholic School, located in Perris, California, is an educational ministry of St. James the Less Parish that exists to form each student in a spirit of faith and academic excellence following the model of our founders, the Sisters of Mercy.


At St. James the Less Catholic School we believe:

  • Every child is a child of God, unique and precious
  • In the image and likeness of Jesus, teachers mentor their students with love and compassion
  • Parents and teachers collaborate to help students become self-confident and independent leaders


The Schoolwide Learning Expectations (SLEs) are goals that we hope that all students achieve by the time they graduate from St. James Catholic School. They are interwoven into the entire school community and especially throughout student's lessons and instruction. They are an integral part of the school environment.