On September 18, 2018, St. Philomena School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, formally entered the application process to become a member of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the United States and Canada.
The Faithful Companions of Jesus (fcJ), an international order of Roman Catholic sisters living and ministering in Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas with headquarters in England, opened St. Philomena School in 1953. While the fcJ sisters operate schools internationally, St. Philomena School is their only educational ministry in the United States.
The Network of Sacred Heart Schools, reflective of the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ), consists of 24 Catholic independent schools in the United States and Canada, in addition to an international Network of schools in 30 countries. The Network of Sacred Heart Schools includes elementary and high schools, as well as co-educational and single-gender schools, and the range of schools represent a variety of organizational models and structures.
“The support, care and concern of the Faithful Companions of Jesus sisters for St. Philomena School has been unwavering, and they have pursued various partnerships that have paved the way for the school’s success today,” said Board Chair John Bohan. “The existence of our Board, largely made up of lay people working in collaboration with the sisters, is an example of this spirit. This announcement is another exciting partnership, a new beginning for St. Philomena School.”
“We recognized that being a part of a network of schools guided by a strong religious charism similar to our own would not only be a great support to school leadership but would also provide many benefits to all aspects of school operations,” said Sister Bonnie Moser, fcJ, provincial for the Faithful Companions of Jesus in the Americas.
The Network of Sacred Heart Schools provides access to a wealth of resources as well as various formation and leadership programs for both educators and students.
“It secures the future of St. Philomena School as a strong independent Catholic school continuing to serve new generations of young people with courage and confidence,” said Sister Moser.
Courage and confidence, a motto of the Faithful Companions of Jesus, are qualities revered in the two religious congregation’s founders, Venerable Marie Madeleine D’Houet of the Faithful Companions of Jesus and Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat of the Society of the Sacred Heart, both of whom were contemporaries in France.
“It’s a grace-filled moment to see how the spirit and charism of these two holy women will continue to form the education at St. Philomena,” said Sheila Hammond, RSCJ, provincial of the Society of the Sacred Heart, United States – Canada Province.
The application process for St. Philomena School to join the Network of Sacred Heart Schools is an approximately 30-month, detailed and multi-phased process for application, review and acceptance into the Network.
This process focuses on the mission of Sacred Heart education as articulated in the Goals and Criteria for Sacred Heart Schools in the United States and Canada. The immediate next steps involve the Network Board’s appointment of a Visiting Committee, a site visit to the school, the Board’s review of the committee’s report, and the Board’s recommendation to the members of the Network in October. Assuming an affirmative decision, St. Philomena School is welcome to participate in all programs of the Network.
St. Philomena School Principal Brian Cordeiro will take a leadership role in the application process and will continue to work with Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ, head of the Conference of Sacred Heart Education, who works with Sacred Heart boards of trustees and heads of schools.
“The Network of Sacred Heart Schools is known for its high standards for quality of education and the formation of students of character, courage and confidence,” said Cordeiro. “The Network engages as an exceptional collaborative body of schools of excellence committed to bringing Catholic education into a bright and vibrant future. This is a very exciting time for our school.”