"...our teachers were not able to get transportation from Ireland until 1947. But I had promised the Archbishop to start school in September, 1946. This I did--we began with 30 boys and three teachers: Fr. Daniel, Doctor Quinlan, and myself."
Dr. Patrick Quinlan was from Ireland and was studying at Cal Tech, which was in nearby Pasadena. Stephen, in addition to teaching, was still pastor of St. Francis parish as well as Custos. Daniel Duffy had come to California after working in New York and Oregon.
In 1947, the new teachers arrived from Ireland. Valerian O’Leary was named first rector. Two other new teachers were Bros. Alphonsus O'Connor and Emilian Meade. They were later joined by Cyril Kelleher and Paul Barrett. They were able to get their accreditation at nearby Immaculate Heart College. The high school seminary began to fulfill its purpose. Thomas Berry Walsh, who graduated with the first senior class in 1950, entered the Order as Bro. Michael and was sent to Wilmington for his novitiate. Another candidate for the Order, James G. Corbin (now Marian), was sent to the high school for a year to study Latin, before he, too, was sent east for novitiate. When they were ordained in 1958, the Alvernian, the yearbook for St. Francis, proudly proclaimed them the "First Fruits of the Seminary." As vocations thus developed, the Order began to take root in the West.
The first chapel for the new school was located in the former barroom of the country club. The ballroom served as a study hall, and locker rooms were transformed into classrooms. Part of the original building, which was 1/13 of a mile long, was used as the friary. Conditions were cramped until new bedrooms were added in 1948, as well as a dormitory for the seminary students. Early on the school began its tradition of having a strong sports program, and the football field was begun in 1947.
The school began to grow, a growth which has never really stopped. As the number of students increased, the need for new facilities became urgent. In 1952/53 a new building was added to the campus. It contained seven new classrooms, a science lab, a locker room, and additional office space. To fund the expansion part of the land which came with the country club was sold to the government and became the site of public schools.
In 1952, when Emilian Meade became rector, St. Francis had six friars on the teaching staff and 155 students, mostly day students. "Only a small number of these boys are boarders, aspirants to the Order." Because of its size, there was present on campus a family spirit, involving not only the staff and student body, but also the parents, who were keenly interested in the school and its growth. The school soon had a reputation for excellence in academics and sports. However, as Stephen Murtagh put it, the first mission of the friars there was Franciscan. "There lives are a daily sermon to the boys. The kind of Sermon St. Francis wished his followers to teach--by example."