As we look to the future and a new chapter for Catholic education on the west side of Manhattan, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Merging SBS and SHJS, both communities bring powerful stories of Catholic education.
School of the Blessed Sacrament History
The School of the Blessed Sacrament is located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was founded in 1903 by the Christian Brothers of Saint John Baptist de la Salle and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton's Sisters of Charity of Mount St. Vincent. The first principal was Sister Marie Josephine,S.C. The sisters in the school lived at 168 West 79th Street. The first graduation was held in 1909. Originally the school stood on the corner of 71st Street and Broadway. In 1914, Reverend Thomas F. Myhan undertook the building of a new church, rectory, and school. Unfortunately, Rev. Myhan died on October 8, 1916 before seeing the completion of his undertaking. His successor, Right Reverend Monsignor William J. Guinan, took over and completed Father Myhan's plans.
The cornerstones of the buildings were laid in 1917, and on September 8, 1919 the new school on 70th street was opened. A high school opened in 1922 but closed in 1967, giving way for the elementary school to expand and use upper floors of the building.
Today the school continues to offer the high quality Catholic education as was envisioned by its founders, a tradition that will continue into the next chapter of The School of the Blessed Sacrament.
Sacred Heart of Jesus School History
Monsignor Joseph Mooney, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish from 1890 to 1923, was determined to establish a school for his thriving parish. In 1892 he purchased four houses on West 51st Street with the goal of building a school. The Sisters of Charity of New York were asked to staff the school, which was initially open only to girls. The first school staff consisted of Sister Marie Austin O'Hara, principal, Sister Mary Agrippina Lyons, Sister Marie Constantin Meehan and Sister Marie Xavier St. Clair.
The school was dedicated in 1896 by The Most Rev. Michael Corrigan, Archbishop of New York. The Sisters of Charity, along with Father Mooney, faced the difficult period of education when children were not mandated to attend school and child labor laws had not come into being. The Sisters and the pastor faced a variety of challenges, from the opening of a kindergarten in 1898 to help serve the needs of working mothers, to class sizes of over 100 students.
During the early years of the school's history, a vision of educating the whole person emerged and became a hallmark of education at Sacred Heart of Jesus School. The staff of the school aimed to assist the students in discovering their unique gifts and talents. The educational program focused on the development of students as spiritual, intellectual, artistic and social persons created in the image and likeness of God. Through their gifts and talents, students were then encouraged to contribute to the Church and society by putting their skills at the service of their neighbors.
In 1924 Father Daniel Quinn invited the Christian Brothers of Ireland to staff a boys department of Sacred Heart of Jesus School. While the Brothers had a strong reputation for discipline they also lived up to the spirit of their motto, Facere et Docere, To Do and To Teach.
Following the Second Vatican Council, Sacred Heart of Jesus School joined the boys' and girls' departments, creating a co-ed school built on the traditions of the Sisters of Charity, the Christian Brothers,