In the early 1960’s, the City of Bartlesville was expanding to the east of town. St. John Church and School, the only Catholic Church in Bartlesville, was at maximum capacity. Rev. John F. Lynch, Pastor of St. John envisioned that a new parish and school on the east side of Bartlesville would eventually need to be established. As a result, St. John purchased a 6-acre tract on Douglas Lane to build the school. The plot of ground was empty, with the exception of a small, white house on the corner of Madison Boulevard and Douglas Lane. Fr. Lynch approved plans to build an all-electric building to be located near Douglas Lane. Construction began some time in early 1964.
In August, 1965, Bishop Reed announced he was dividing the Catholic people of Bartlesville at Route 75 stating that those west of the highway would be members of St. John and those on the east of Route 75 would be members of Saint James. He appointed Fr. Robert Pickett as pastor of Saint James.
The Ursuline Sisters from Paola, Kansas sent three nuns: two would be teachers and the third would teach and serve as principal. This meant Saint James would have 2
grades in each of the 3 classrooms. Saint James School opened in August 1965 with 40 to 50 students and 3 Ursuline nuns. The little white house on the corner was designated to be the convent for the nuns. Fr. Pickett resided in the rectory at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dewey with the additional responsibility of that parish as well. There was no tuition charged for the students in Saint James School because all operating expenses for the school and church came out of regular contributions from the membership of 192 families and individuals.
The first Mass was celebrated on August 29, 1965 in the auditorium which became the ‘Church’. The altar started as a simple table set in front of the stage on the west side. Bishop Reed conducted a formal dedication service for the Saint James Church and School on Sunday, December 6, 1966 and approximately 125 people received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
In 1969 the school closed due to low enrollment and the little white house became the new rectory for Fr. Pickett. In 1974, Fr. Pickett was transferred to another parish and Fr. Frank Warnke became the Pastor of Saint James for the next four years. In 1978, Fr. Bill Skeehan came to Saint James as the appointed pastor. Like Fr. Pickett, he was totally committed to the teachings of Vatican II and believed that the laity had an important part in the parish.
In 1983, St. James completed a new rectory east of the church. After remodeling the little white house, it became the headquarters for several charity organizations. Presently, our Middle and High School youths use it for religious education activities and social gatherings.
Fr. Skeehan retired in 2004 and Rev. Michael E. Cashen was appointed pastor of Saint James with over two hundred families and individuals as members. In the middle of June 2007, he was assigned to another parish and in that same month Rev. Archie Fernandez was appointed by Bishop E. Slattery as the new pastor of Saint James Parish.