October 10, 2016
2016 marks the 170th anniversary of the founding of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. The life of Cornelia Connelly, our founder, was anything but typical. She was a wife of an Episcopalian minister, mother to five children, and ultimately, the founder of our order of Roman Catholic Sisters.
The catalyst for her becoming a woman religious was her husband Pierce’s calling to be a Catholic priest. He needed Cornelia’s consent for separation, and it was granted by Pope Gregory XVI upon Cornelia’s becoming a Sister.
At the Pope’s request, Cornelia was invited to begin a congregation that would educate Catholic girls in England. As Cornelia envisioned a congregation that was responsive to the needs of the time, the words “Society of the Holy Child Jesus” came to her, reflecting her incarnational spirituality.
On October 13, 1846, the Society officially began, as Cornelia traveled to Derby, England with three other women, who became Sisters of the Holy Child. It was October 13, the feast of St. Edward, exactly six years to the day that Pierce had announced his decision to become a Catholic priest. Even with the conditions that greeted her at the Derby convent, she was ready to have an opening Mass only two days later. In a small room, simply furnished, she and the three postulants assisted at their first Mass as a religious society.
October 15, the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, would come to be observed as the formal founding of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
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