In the Mid-1930s

the nation was still mired in the injustice of segregation, with no apparent end in sight. A small group of Black Catholics approached Bishop Walsh of South Carolina with a request that they be allowed to have a church where they could worship without the pain of segregation, in an atmosphere of respect and dignity. Parents were also seeking a place where their children could receive a quality education and maintain a positive sense of themselves and their dignity as persons. These aspirations found fruition in the establishment of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church by the Dominican Fathers of New York, and on September 14, 1936, the opening of St. Martin de Porres School by the Dominican sisters of Sinsinaws, Wisconsin.

For over 82 Years

 Saint Martin de Porres Catholic School has been a fixture in the Historic Waverly Community, providing a quality education to both African Americans and Whites in the Columbia area. Some of Columbia’s most influential African Americans attended Saint Martin de Porres Catholic School: doctors, lawyers, judges, professors, dentists, politicians, teachers, engineers, community developers, chairperson, dancers, artists, and entrepreneurs. We’re proud of our 82 year history.


Saint Martin de Porres Catholic School continues in its tradition of excellence with smaller teacher to student ratio classes, extra curriculum activities, and an emphasis on the student’s spiritual growth. In August 2007, Grade 6 was re-opened.

 Students at Saint Martin de Porres can sign up for extracurricular activities such as choir, basketball, soccer, tutoring, tennis, swimming, Reading Club and Vocation Club. Although only a small percentage of students are Catholic, all students attend weekly Mass. We are a faith-filled community promoting spiritual and academic development. Fr. Michael Okere is the current Administrator of the church. Mrs. Delores Gilliard is the current Principal of St. Martin de Porres Catholic School.

 Partnering with the parish and community leaders, we look forward to a bright future for St. Martin de Porres Catholic School. Our dream is to build a new school.

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