St. Stephen Parish was established in 1950 from sections of St. Emydius, St. Cecilia, and St. Gabriel Parishes. The boundaries were fixed west at the Great Highway, east at Junipero Serra Boulevard, and south at Country Club Drive. Reverend Richard Powers was the pastor for the first two years, and in January 1952, Reverend Joseph Donworth became pastor and remained so until retirement in 1972. At that time he relinquished his duties to the new pastor, Reverend Joseph O’Reilly, who retired in 1987. Reverend William Knapp was appointed pastor, and remained in that position until his retirement five years later. Reverend Mario Farana became the fifth Pastor in the summer of 1992, and remained pastor for only one year before being reassigned to another parish in San Francisco. Father John Wester followed Father Farana as pastor and remained in that position until June of 1997. With Father Wester’s transfer, Father Joseph Walsh became the seventh pastor to minister at St. Stephen Parish.
St. Stephen Parish holds the distinction of being the first in the Archdiocese to construct a school prior to a parish church, a tribute to the parishioners who were willing to endure inconvenience in order that their children might receive a Catholic education. In February of 1952, construction of two four-classroom buildings began. The first four classrooms opened on September 22, 1952, to one hundred seventy children with instruction for the first five grades.
The Sisters of Mercy were contracted to staff the school. The first lay teachers joined the school in 1955. In March of 1975, the Sisters of Mercy announced to the parents of St. Stephen School the need to reduce the sister personnel due to the decrease in available teaching sisters. In 2002 the first lay principal, Mrs. Sharon Allen, was hired. Currently there is a staff of dedicated Catholic teachers.
In September of 1986, the Extension Center was opened so that children of working parents would have a secure place to leave their children until they could be picked up after work. The Center is staffed with four adult directors.
After many years of study, the decision was reached to incorporate a kindergarten class into the St. Stephen School program. The first kindergarten class was welcomed in September of 1987 and class was held at the temporary site of the modular building that later became art/science room. A year later another modular was erected to serve as the Kindergarten classroom.
In 1994, St. Stephen community began a study to identify its most pressing space needs. The needs of the school were incorporated into this study, as well. It had become evident that the modular buildings on the property would need to be replaced within a few years. An outcome of planning resulted in the decision to build an addition to the school to replace the modular buildings and provide a permanent space for the school programs currently housed in the modulars. A capital campaign for funds was undertaken in September of 1998 and in April of 2000, the parish community witnessed the dedication of a new wing on the east side of the parish property. This new wing is joined to the east end of the school building and provides space for a kindergarten, science room, computer room, library, and a large administration area. A capital campaign for funding was initiated in 2006 to build a new Donworth Center, to replace the existing Donworth Hall. It will be a community gymnasium and expected to be completed in 2010.