Saint Anne Parish School opened its doors on September 17, 1945 under the visionary leadership of Reverend Christopher J. Bradley. It was a single story building of four large classrooms, an office and two restrooms. In 1947, a second level was added of five large classrooms and two offices. Four more classrooms were added along Sycamore Street in February of 1954 with an additional three added in 1964. From 1945 to 1980, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) were entrusted with the administration and teaching at the school. The BVMs were founded by Mother Mary Frances Clark in 1831 to teach the children of the poor in Dublin, Ireland. In 1833, they moved to the United States and continued their mission to teach inner city immigrant and poor children, especially girls.
In 1980, after much prayer and discernment, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary decided to leave the school and Monsignor John G. Campbell asked the Sisters of the Company of Mary (ODN) to take over the leadership of Saint Anne Parish School. The sisters of the Company of Mary, founded in 1607, follow the charism of Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac, their foundress, and dedicate themselves to educating children in the faith and promoting justice. From 1980 to present day there have been as many as seven sisters working in the school in any given year, to the two who are presently working today.
Saint Anne Parish School has completed a thorough review of the demographics of the school community. A comprehensive breakdown of the school population by Catholicity, gender and ethnicity is included in the self-study. The Saint Anne Parish community is comprised of a population of 62,627. A large percentage of the population is Hispanic or Latino with Caucasian and other ethnicities making up the minority. We have nearly 6,000 families attending the nine Sunday liturgy Masses in English and Spanish. The parish facilities are in constant use by the many outreach programs focused on evangelization. Saint Anne Parish has a strong Religious Education program for children and adults.
SAINT JEANNE DE LESTONNAC
SISTERS OF THE COMPANY OF MARY OUR LADY
Jeanne de Lestonnac was born on December 27, 1556, in Bordeaux, France. This time of great turmoil within the Catholic Church of France, brought about by the Protestant Reformation, had its effect on each individual and family in France and throughout the world. Jeanne early childhood was marred by religious conflict within her own family, which constantly challenged her to remain steadfast in her Catholic faith.
Although as a young woman Jeanne desired to enter religious life, her father advised her to marry Gaston de Montferrand. Her first three children died at an early age, but a few years later she was blessed with five more children.
Jeanne was forty years old when her husband died and she continued the spiritual formation and upbringing of her children as a single parent. As soon as her children were grown and able to care for themselves, she once again seriously considered a religious vocation. In 1603, after much prayer and discernment, she entered a Cistercian monastery, however, due to her advanced years and delicate health, she was unable to adapt to the rigors of the monastery. She became so gravely ill that it was necessary for her to leave the monastery after having been there for only one year. Once again she had to discover God's will and plan in this new development.
It was at this time that she was inspired to establish a religious community under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Order of the Sisters of the Company of Mary, Our Lady would dedicate itself to "education in the faith and the promotion of justice". As one of the first religious orders for women in the Catholic Church to have an active apostolic dimension, it had, at the core of its spirit, the harmonization of action and contemplation.
On April 7, 1607, Pope Paul V approved the Order of the Company of Mary Our Lady, which became the first feminine Religious Order in the Catholic Church dedicated to teaching. To educate young people, endowing them with the ethical and intellectual tools they need to be witnesses to their faith, is the very reason for the existence of the Order.
The dream of Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac was transformed into a genuine Educational Plan or Project in which she combined her profound life experience with the various helps available to her at the time: the humanism of Michel de Montaigne, the bold ventures of the Calvinists in the education of women, the Ignatian spiritual experience and the systematic pedagogy of the Jesuits. Today, four centuries later, we find that The Sisters of the Company of Mary possess an Educational Project enriched by the passage of time and through its enculturation in different contexts.
Blessed in seeing the Order flourish throughout France during her lifetime, Jeanne died on February 2, 1640. After a long life of dedication as a wife, mother, and foundress of the Sisters of the Company of Mary, Pope Pius XII canonized Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac on May 15, 1949.
The Sisters of the Company came to the United States in 1926, and became administrators of Saint Anne School in September, 1980. Saint Anne School is fortunate to be part of this grand educational community which extends to 28 countries and 4 continents!