Cheri L. Wood was warmly welcomed into the Holy Child fold at the Installation ceremony on September 20, which appointed her Cornelia Connelly School’s 10th Head of School. It has been 23 years since Cornelia Connelly School, Anaheim has welcomed a new Head of School, a testament to Connelly’s steadfast leadership over the years.
Each year it is a tradition to begin the school year with the Mass of the Holy Spirit. This year with the addition of an Installment ceremony for Connelly’s new Head of school, there was a palpable excitement in the air as the many visitors began streaming onto the campus. Among the students, faculty and staff at today’s Mass were parents, alumnae, friends, representatives from the Diocese of Orange, Connelly board members, and past and present Heads of School from Connelly and Mayfield Senior School. Everyone gathered in Gunther Auditorium to welcome and wish Cheri well.
Connelly is blessed to have Cheri assume the helm of leadership of the school. Cheri has much experience working in Catholic school education. Complemented by her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology, Cheri has a deep knowledge of student development, curriculum development, and the business and financial sides of educational leadership. Thus far in her short two months at Connelly, she has embraced the mission and goals of the Holy Child, committing herself with joy and determination to continue the Holy Child tradition.
Following an introduction by Priscila Forbes, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Connelly was honored to have the Most Reverend Bishop Timothy Freyer, Auxiliary Bishop of Orange, preside over the Mass and Installation ceremony. Bishop Freyer’s tall, 6’+ stature is a commanding presence, but he quickly proved to the audience
that he could be revered, humorous, and endearing all at the same time. At one point he spoke directly to Cheri, telling the story of how it took Moses 40 years of wandering in the desert with the Israelites before going home. He quickly added that he was glad it didn’t take Cheri 40 years before returning to the Diocese of Orange.
Sister Eileen McDevitt, SHCJ – the Director of the Holy Child Network of Schools, travelled from Philadelphia to perform the installation. She spoke of foundress Cornelia Connelly’s strength, her devotion to God and education, and how Cornelia’s faith and love for God carried her through times of change. Change that Cheri will face as she strives to bring Cornelia’s vision to life through her leadership.
Sister continued, “Cornelia was a wife, a mother of five children, a convert to Catholicism, all before and while founding the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in Derby, England in 1846. It was her faith in God—Our God made flesh—the wondrous absurdity of God who took on all of our humanity, that gave her the courage and the confidence to do more and to be more than anyone of her time or our time could ever imagine. This is now your heritage, Cheri. It is articulated in the Goals and Criteria for Holy Child schools but they are only words. It is up to you to give them life, heart and spirit – Actions not Words. We hand this on to you gently and with confidence in what God plans to do through you for this community. Welcome to the Holy Child family and thank you for taking on what Cornelia called the ‘sweet laborious task of education.’ Cheri, may you be held up every day by God’s love and by our prayers and support for you.” She then led the entire audience in the blessing, asking everyone to extend their right hand to bless Cheri as she stood in front of the Connelly community.
Cheri closed the ceremony by acknowledging the contributions of the many in attendance: the Sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus; Bishop Freyer and Father Sallot; the Board of Trustees; the Diocese of Orange and area school leadership; the almunae present; the Connelly faculty and staff; her friends and husband; and finally to the young ladies of Cornelia Connelly School. She closed by vowing to “remain dedicated in fidelity to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and will at this time in the history of the school remain mindful of these words of Cornelia Connelly that this is truly a ‘time to ask for great things: faith, zeal, generosity, humility, and charity.’”