It seems that Frances de la Chapelle, RSCJ, has been going to school all of her life—either attending or guiding them, sometimes doing both at the same time—and her dedication to the education of youth has been a constant.
After making her first vows on March 9, 1964, Sister de la Chapelle began her classroom ministries as a mathematics teacher at Kenwood Academy in Albany. After a year, she left for Stone Ridge in Washington where she taught in the lower school. She continued teaching in the lower school the next year at Stuart Country Day School in Princeton, New Jersey, the first of three stops at Stuart Country Day. On July 2, 1969, Sister de la Chapelle made her final profession at the Society’s Mother House in Rome.
Sister de la Chapelle became Dean of Students at Newton College in Newton, Massachusetts for six years before returning to Stuart Country Day School, this time as head of the upper school. She loved the familiar environment, people, and outside community. She held this position for five years until taking the job as psychology teacher at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Newton, Massachusetts.
During the eleven years between 1980 and 1991, Sister de la Chapelle held a variety of different positions within the school. At Newton Country Day School alone, she went from psychology teacher to director of admissions and college guidance. Eventually, she left New Jersey to fill the role of principal at Woodlands Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois. At the end of her time there, she became director of the Ongoing Formation and Ministry Team at the Society of the Sacred Heart offices in St. Louis.
However, she was drawn back not only to teaching, but to Stuart Country Day School. She returned in 1993 for her third time, this time as the school’s headmistress. In her new role, Sister de la Chapelle updated the facilities, expanded the education programs, increased enrollment, and even helped to establish the brother school, Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart.
After serving a combined forty-four years in schools—twenty-four of those at Stuart Country Day School—Sister de la Chapelle says she is most proud of “the faculty and students—how they love the Sacred Heart values and how they try to live them.” She also recognizes Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat’s vision in regard to family and community. As the foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart, Barat’s main commitment was to education. “Sophie entered religious life, called by religion based on the love of God, to transfer that love of God in an institution.” Sister de la Chapelle has worked to continue this vision.
Sister de la Chapelle currently serves the Society as director of ministry for the United States – Canada Province. She splits her time between Washington, DC and Boston.