On Friday, 16 October 2015, The Society of the Holy Child Jesus will be celebrating the life and ministry of Holy Child sisters in Preston, England over the last 160 or more years.
It is with sadness that we close our last community house here. But we are confident that the practice of loyal and robust Catholicism, with which we are proud to have been associated, will continue to flourish in Preston.
For more than a century, as the town expanded, sisters took responsibility for school after school in the newly founded parishes: the Sacred Heart, the English Martyrs, St Joseph’s, St Mary Magdalene in Penwortham, St Anthony’s Cadley, St Bernard’s Lea, as well as in the long-established St Mary’s in Friargate. Later they also taught in the Catholic secondary modern and comprehensive schools. Their contribution to Catholic education and parish life in Preston cannot be exaggerated.
In 1875 the Society bought their house in Winckley Square and opened a school for ‘young ladies’ with about 50 pupils, half of whom were boarders. As well as this, linking Winckley Square with the parish schools, they accommodated and trained pupil teachers. Like the parish schools, Winckley Square flourished, providing, as Cornelia Connelly intended, an education that helped students to “grow strong in faith and lead fully human lives”.
By the middle of the twentieth century – and not before time – lay people (many of them Holy Child educated) assumed the headships of the schools. The number of Holy Child sisters in the town decreased, the sisters moving first to East Cliff and then to St Austin’s Place where the community participated in the life of the parish much as the earliest sisters had done.