School of the Holy Child, Rye, NY

Jeanne Ronzani, SHCJ

175th Anniversary of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus

On October 15, 1846, Cornelia Connelly and her three companions were joined in prayer at the Society’s first Mass in Derby, England. Little did she imagine that 175 years later, countless thousands of individuals, on four continents, would have been inspired by her spirit of “courage, confidence and cheerfulness.” Cornelia’s life is an amazing story of call and response, filled with obstacles and challenges, and through it all she was able to heed her own exhortation, that is the desire to sustain a “bright and joyful spirit.”

We have all been touched by this valiant woman and her innovative, far-sighted approach to educating the whole person, encouraging each to be his or her best self. For many decades, as the number of Holy Child Sisters grew, the sisters opened and staffed schools in Europe, Africa and North America, along with pastoral ministries in Latin America. In more recent decades, leadership of the schools, in particular, has been entrusted to outstanding women and men who have embraced our Holy Child philosophy with total commitment and dedication. They carry the beloved legacy of the Society into the future, and our whole world benefits as graduates commit to making the world a better place.

This year, as we celebrate 175 years since the founding of the Society, we have great cause for rejoicing. While sisters are fewer in number, hundreds of amazing companions lead our schools, steadfast in their resolve that Cornelia’s vision is and will be sustained over decades, hopefully centuries to come. For what more could we ask, for this spirit is a treasured gift, one beyond measure and a boundless source of encouragement. The Society has every confidence that our schools will thrive, long after we are gone, and our gratitude is profound and deep.

In 1957, when I began secondary school at Holy Child High School in Waukegan, Illinois, little did I know this Holy Child connection would define the rest of my life. For this great adventure I am grateful each day.