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Our Holy Child History

Our Foundress Cornelia Connelly

We are a Holy Child School: an exemplar of an international community of high performing schools built around the progressive and enlightened educational philosophy of Cornelia Connelly, founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

Well ahead of her time, and inspired by her own life experience of having been first a mother and then a nun and teacher, Cornelia Connelly recognized that happy children learn better; that effective teaching can best occur in a home-like atmosphere of love, beauty, and respect for the needs of the whole child; and that instruction of children must proceed logically and be provided with patience guided by the pace of each child’s maturation. Cornelia also fervently believed that the arts, physical play, and the practice of self-expression were central—not optional—elements of a holistic approach to the education of children.

Over the span of her life, Cornelia Connelly was steadfast in her commitment to a life of service and education, forming a teaching order in England: The Society of the Holy Child Jesus. Cornelia’s religious philosophy stressed deed over doctrine, and her credo of “Actions, not words” guides us everyday. Cornelia sought to empower children through education. Reverence for the learner from any religious and socioeconomic background, collaborative learning, the love of art and beauty, and the importance of spiritual nourishment—these tenets are the bedrock of a Holy Child education.

Our School's History

Holy Child School at Rosemont is the modern articulation of the timeless teachings of Cornelia Connelly. The education we offer respects and honors the four dimensions of every child’s life: the intellectual, the spiritual, the physical, and the emotional. Our graduates thrive: They enter the high schools they want to go to, taking with them something that will serve them well their entire lives: The full blessing of childhood.

In 1949, 22 boys and girls, in preschool, 1st and 2nd grades, were welcomed to what was then called the School of the Holy Child Jesus. They learned and played in the Tudor mansion, designed by Horace Trumbauer, the famous Philadelphia architect responsible for the Philadelphia Museum of Art and many Main Line mansions of the Gilded Age.

The sisters of the Holy Child Jesus belonged to an order founded by Philadelphia native Cornelia Connelly in 1846. An inspired educator and courageous woman, Cornelia Connelly urged the sisters to respect the dignity of each child and to educate holistically, taking into account mind, body, heart, and soul.

The School grew until it encompassed Kindergarten through 8th grade. By the late 1960s more space was needed, so the School embarked on its first building campaign. Further expansion continued in the 1970s and 1990s. Holy Child School at Rosemont continued to grow into the 21st century, dedicating a new gymnasium, a turf field, and an expanded Academic Center that was completed in 2008. Most recently in 2021, a large-scale campus expansion brought forth a new performing arts and athletic center; a prayer grotto; a multi-sport, regulation-sized turf field; and a forthcoming Nature, Exploration, and Science Territory (The NEST), focused on outdoor education. 

For more than 70 years of changing educational styles and innovations, our students have continued to win academic honors, participate in athletics and the arts, and have been admitted to top college preparatory schools.

Several graduates now have grandchildren enrolled in the School. Many note that while the approach to learning has evolved at the School, the same compassion and spirit of joy that signifies a Holy Child education still fills the halls and classrooms.