Bishop Feehan High School – Proudly Honoring our Mercy Heritage
With the opening of another school year, Feehan proudly welcomes 293 more freshmen – our 56th class – into a culture steeped in the traditions of the Sisters of Mercy and their foundress, Catherine McAuley.
While Feehan was founded by the Sisters in 1961, our school no longer has any Sisters actively on campus day-to-day. Because of that – and because we know that our Mercy heritage is core to all that we do – Feehan is re-doubling efforts to ensure that all Feehan students experience the Mercy way throughout their time in our school.
This year, Feehan’s Theology department co-chairs, Jim Fasy and Tim Reid, have spearheaded a curriculum revamp that includes a first semester introduction to the tenets of the Sister’s heritage and a four-year emphasis on connecting our students with the charism of Catherine McAuley.
“The time is right for us to cement the teachings of the Sisters into the experience of all of our students,” points out Feehan President, Tim Sullivan ’87. “For decades our students received those lessons so well from the Sisters themselves. We know that today it’s essential that we carry those same messages forward on behalf of all the Sisters that built Feehan and served our school so well.”
These curriculum changes dovetail with a Feehan experience that has always centered on service and mercy in so many ways.
Each year, we honor the founders of our school with a Mercy Day Mass & Tea. Mercy Day – September 24th – is the anniversary of the opening of the first “House of Mercy” in 1827 in Dublin, Ireland. Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, devoted her life to the poor, sick and uneducated
We invite the local Sisters of Mercy and our local Mercy Associates (including longtime Feehan Spanish teacher, Dr. Karen Brennan) – many of whom taught at or served Feehan over the years – to attend Mass on Mercy Day. The Sisters are honored at Mass and then are invited to a celebratory luncheon put on by our National Honor Society.
Bishop Feehan also aims to foster that mercy charism in our actions. One great example of this effort comes each December when Bishop Feehan hosts its annual Santa Shop. Started in the 1990s, the school’s campus ministry office partners with local St. Vincent de Paul societies to collect and wrap approximately 4,000 toys and children’s gifts. Local families in need are invited to campus, where Bishop Feehan students help parents select Christmas presents for their children. This tradition fosters all of Feehan’s core values and promotes one of the founding characteristics of the Sisters of Mercy: hospitality.
Of course, a culture of mercy needs to be an everyday thing – not just a habit reserved for big events. Whether it’s simply holding the door open for a fellow student or faculty member, assisting a classmate who is struggling with an assignment, or keeping our campus clean, Feehan’s students take that extra step to be good community members within our campus. Students take on a deep understanding for what the Sisters of Mercy stand for: generosity, compassion for others, and community service.
Students “caught doing right” even earn a “pride pin” from Feehan Vice Principal for Student Life Al Svendsen. These pins are shaped as the school’s’ emblem – the Shamrock – which embodies the principles of Sanctity, Scholarship, and Sportsmanship.
So many of Feehan’s teachers and leaders were taught themselves by the Sisters, and administrators like Mr. Svendsen and Principal Sean Kane and Chaplain Rev. David Costa – who didn’t attend Feehan – have developed a deep respect for culture that the Sisters imbued into our school.
The Sisters of Mercy may not be working at Feehan any longer, but their legacy remains in our halls today and in the hearts of our 11,000 graduates across our country and the world.