Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Holy Angels Community Celebrates Foundation Day

Demarest, NJ: The Academy of the Holy Angels celebrated the October 24, 1833 foundation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame with a special service for the school community held on Friday, October 27th. AHA President Melinda Hanlon and Principal Jean Mullooly opened the service, which was attended by local School Sisters of Notre Dame, and alumnae, since the event also ushered in this year’s Alumnae Weekend.

Eight SSNDs renewed their vows, including S. Grace D’Amico, S. Madeline Hanson, S. Ethel Howley, S. Mary Kelly, S. Patricia (“Pat”) Ferrick, and AHA’s S. Carole Tabano, S. Kathleen Dunham, and S. Mary Foley.

S. Pat was also this year’s keynote speaker. Many in the AHA community know S. Pat for her work in Douglas, Arizona, where several Holy Angels students were part of her Mission Awareness Process experience in February.

While she was growing up in Brooklyn, New York, S. Pat thought she would one day become a missionary doctor in a far off country. In a sense, she was right. Her future began to take shape when she was a Saint Saviour High School student, and met the SSNDs. She decided to join the organization after graduation, and did so on the same day as AHA’s S. Kathleen.

S. Pat’s work initially involved teaching sixth graders. She later volunteered to go to Chile, where she logged 30 years of service. When she arrived in Santiago, S. Pat learned Spanish, and realized her childhood dream of helping the sick. She worked with the Saint George’s College Social Action Department, and with two local parishes. She was also involved with New World Foundations, a church ministry, and worked as a volunteer in hospital-based project for individuals with HIV and AIDS.

She spent six months as a student at the Latin American Theological and Pastoral Institute in Bogotá, Colombia, and another four months at a hermitage before heading to Paraguay. There, she worked with young women who were considering religious vocations.

She later returned to Chile and worked in pastoral ministry until the bishop asked her to lead the diocesan “Infancia Misionera” (Holy Childhood) program.

Her current ministry in Arizona focuses on migrants and those seeking a better life in the United States. S. Pat now helps run a migrant shelter and carpentry workshop in Aqua Prieta, Mexico, and teaches life and job skills through her work as an interpreter.

S. Pat emphasized the importance of bringing people together. She noted that a 20-foot wall already exists between Douglas and Agua Prieta, but the two municipalities consider themselves sister cities, and hold mutual events, including concerts, at the wall. She also reported that people along the border hold cross plantings and vigils to remember those who have died trying to cross the border.

S. Pat challenged the AHA community, asking, “What more can we be for other people who need us? What is the ‘more’ to which you, your class, your school are being called to promote unity? What are you going to do?”

Academy of the Holy Angels is sponsored by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who trace their beginnings to October 24, 1833. Blessed Mother Theresa (formerly Caroline) Gerhardinger and two other women are credited with establishing the organization in Neunburg vorm Wald, Bavaria. At that time, many convent schools were being closed due to political and religious sentiments that resulted from the French Revolution and Enlightenment. Mother Theresa, who had attended a school that was closed, made it her mission to provide others with a proper education. In 1865, Pope Pius IX approved the “Poor School Sisters of Notre Dame’s” constitution. By the time Mother Theresa died in 1879, there were more than 2,500 SSNDs educating girls in elementary schools, day nurseries, and orphanages. The SSNDs also provided homes and night schools for girls working in factories.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


Academy of the Holy Angels

315 Hillside Avenue Contact Us & Driving Directions

Demarest, NJ 07627

Phone: 201.768.7822

Contact Us & Driving Directions

Copyright 2017. Academy of the Holy Angels. Privacy Policy.