Established in 1961 by the Sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, Cornelia Connelly School is Orange County’s only independent, college-preparatory Catholic high school for girls. As one of 10 Holy Child Schools in the United States, Connelly is part of the Holy Child Network of Schools, an international network of schools that offer an education with a distinctive spirit. The Holy Child Exchange Program offers Connelly’s students the opportunity to spend part of their school year studying at other Holy Child schools in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Ireland and England.
The Holy Child Schools were started by Cornelia Peacock, who was born in Philadelphia on January 15, 1809. At twenty-two, she married an Episcopalian minister, Pierce Connelly, and four years later, the young couple and their two children became Roman Catholics.
Due to the many personal struggles and tragedies Cornelia Connelly endured, it was said that the Society of the Holy Child Jesus was founded “on a broken heart.” Its beginning was small and there were many deprivations, but a spirit of joy and peace prevailed. In her suffering, Cornelia clung steadfastly to God, her strength. She wrote in her notebook, “I belong all to God,” and this total belonging freed her to give herself to others. Her love for God grew and she sought joyfully to live her life as one continuous act of love. Cornelia was able to inspire in her sisters something of her own serenity in adversity. Soon they were running schools for the poor and needy, and holding day, night, and Sunday classes to accommodate the young factory workers.
In the mystery of the Incarnation, God became one of us – this is where Cornelia found her inspiration. It was to this Child, in Whom God is both hidden and manifest, that she dedicated her Society. The mystery of God embracing all that is human was the foundation of her charisma. Today, there are Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus in fourteen countries, striving to live the apostolic life as Cornelia did, seeking still to meet the wants of the age through works of spiritual mercy. They are engaged in education and related spiritual and pastoral ministries.
(Reprint of text courtesy of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.)