In North Attleboro, a celebration of 100 years of Catholic education
Celebration is the word right now in the local realm of religion, as North Attleboro parishioners, students, teachers, and families celebrate the 100th year of the St. Mary-Sacred Heart School of North Attleboro.
The celebration started with a Mass on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Sacred Heart Church, with Bishop Edgar da Cunha, bishop of the Diocese of Fall River, as celebrant, and Father David Costa, pastor of Transfiguration Lord Parish and director of SMSH, as concelebrant.
In addition to the 184 students and 30 members of the faculty and staff of the school, parents, family members, parishioners, and special guests attended, filling the church.
Special guests included 10 Holy Union Sisters, led by Sister Katheen Corrigan, SUSC, of the United States Area leadership team; Diocesan school superintendent Daniel Roy and Assistant Superintendent and former SMSH principal, Denise Peixoto; Tim Sullivan, Sean Kane, Charlotte Lourenco (former SMSH principal) and Carrie Smith of the Bishop Feehan High School administrative team; a good number of former SMSH faculty members.
da Cunha was also the homilist at the Mass, and the students presented him with cards and gifts, thanking him for his visit and congratulating him on his 20th anniversary of ordination as a bishop.
A reception for the invited guests was also held in the church meeting room following the Mass, and other events celebrating the 100th anniversary are planned for the coming year.
Although not part of the formal program on Sept. 27, additional comments from the following key people regarding St. Mary-Sacred Heart School also attribute to the important significance of the school to area children.
“Saint Mary-Sacred Heart School is an integral part of the parish,” Costa said. “Imagine the many young lives that have been shaped and formed over these many decades. The impact and influence of our graduates continues to make a difference, not only in North Attleboro, but I dare say, across the globe.
“We would not be here today without the vision, the courage, the determination and the many sacrifices of families, parishioners, and benefactors,” Costa said. “While we no longer have Holy Union Sisters or Sisters of Mercy on our faculty, their dedication to the formation of our children lives on in the wonderful work of our lay faculty, administration, and staff. We are blessed with their commitment to Catholic education,”
When the first St. Mary School registration was taken on Sunday, Aug. 30, about 250 students were enrolled, necessitating additional faculty. Scrambling in the week before the opening of school, two additional Sisters were missioned to North Attleboro.
Over the years, Saint Mary School has grown to be one of the largest elementary schools in the Diocese of Fall River, at one time enrolling more than 800 students.
St. Mary-Sacred Heart School is a pre-K to grade 8 Catholic school that serves students from 12 surrounding towns and 10 parishes. The 2023-24 academic year will commence the school’s centennial celebration of educating and forming students.
Lisa Serak, St. Mary-Sacred Heart’s principal as of this school year, who taught at the school for the past 15 years, said she is honored to be playing a role in the celebration.
“This is such a proud moment in the rich history of the SMSH community and I look forward to serving new families while growing the relationship we have with both current and legacy families.”
Daniel S. Roy, superintendent of schools for the Diocese, called the anniversary an achievement.
“Catholic education has been a cornerstone of this country’s educational landscape since the late 18th century,” he said. “Despite the investment and updates to technology and curriculum, the core of Catholic education has remained the same — to evangelize young people to develop a relationship with God.”
“There has never been a better time for Catholic education to serve families and children,” he said. “We encourage all families in the North Attleboro area to strongly consider investing in your child with a Catholic education.”