In 1961, the Deputy Mayor for Bunawan District, Eduardo N. Perez, initiated a series of consultation meetings held at his residence, and discussed the local community’s desire to petition for the creation of the district of Bunawan into a parish. A team was organized to handle their written request and negotiate with Msgr. Clovis Thibault. They were Dep. Mayor Eduardo N. Perez, Josefina P. Salas, Francisco P. Tan, and Bo. Capt. Angel T. Lamata. Their first audience with Bp. Thibault was on May 31, 1961, at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon at the Bishop’s Residence along F. Torres Street.
On the same year, Fr. Michaud, PME was immediately assigned to assess the said request and received commitments and support from the local community. The couple Don Casiano Salas and Doña Josefina Perez Salas also donated a two-hectare lot for the convent and church site in 1961.
On March 11, 1962, the parish of St. James the Great Apostle in Bunawan was canonically erected where Fr. Carol Bernard, PME was the first parish priest and also a member of the Foreign Mission Society of Quebec, Canada, founded by the bishops of the province of Quebec in 1921.
The first statue of St. James the Great Apostle was brought by the family of Daniel Perez from Cateel, Davao Oriental.
In June 1964, the Assumption Academy of Bunawan was also established by Fr. Bernard with 78 first year students divided into two sections. He was ably assisted by two FMA sisters, two lay teachers and a principal at first. In 1965, Fr. Bernard changed the name of the school into Holy Cross of Bunawan, Inc.
In 1970, the family of Geronimo Perez donated funds for the Carillon Bells for the belfry of St. James Parish, that was also blessed on May 3, 1970. It was Fr. Carol Bernard who took the initiative to purchase the Carillon Bells from Compostela, Spain on the same year.
Having contributed in the formation and development of the local clergy through the Seminary, the PME Fathers eventually turned over the administration of the parish to the Filipino Diocesan Clergy of Davao in 1981.
Since its formal erection, St. James the Great Apostle parish has been under the guidance of Archbishop Clovis Thibault, DD (1962-1972), Abp. Antonio LL. Mabutas, DD (1972-1996), Abp. Fernando R. Capalla, DD (1996-2012) and at present Abp. Romulo Valles, DD.
Abp. Antonio Ll. Mabutas also entrusted the school’s administration to the Sisters of Teresian Daughters of Mary (TDM) since then.
St. James the Great Apostle Parish approximately shepherds some 15,000 faithfuls, organized into 61 Basic Ecclesial Communities or Gagmay’ng Kristohanong Katilingban (GKK), with Rev. Fr. Romel Banilad presently taking care of the needs of the parish, being the parish priest assigned by the Archbishop.