WOONSOCKET — Mount Saint Charles Academy recently kicked off the first of a series of events taking place in celebration of the centenary of its founding.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, former Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans celebrated Mass with clergy connected to Mount Saint Charles, including Father Eugene R. Lessard, a senior priest for the Diocese of Providence and a graduate of Mount Saint Charles Academy’s Class of 1951, and the Reverend (Brother) Nelson Dionne, S.C., an ordained member of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the religious order that runs Mount Saint Charles.
At the beginning of Mass, a series of short remarks were made by Olivia Marcoux, a senior at Mount Saint Charles.
“As a Brothers of the Sacred Heart school, we seek to live out their values and our Catholic identity in our school community daily,” Marcoux said. “Mass brings us together to reflect on how we are achieving our most important calling as a Catholic school: teaching our faith to our students, to ultimately help them achieve sainthood.”
The homily was delivered by Brother Dionne. Meditating upon the image taken from a vision of the Prophet Ezekiel, as described in the Book of Ezekiel, of a stream of water coming forth from the Temple of Jerusalem, Brother Dionne described this image as a “powerful symbol of spiritual nourishment, renewal and growth.”
It was for this reason that Father Andé Coindre, the French priest who founded the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in the early 19th century, used this as a symbol for Catholic education, seeing schools as “sacred or holy places that could provide a safe haven, creating environments where students could feel secure, and in safe hands, where love of virtue and love of God could be fostered.”
After the Universal Prayer, a group of students and alumni presented Brother Dionne with a series of gifts that represent different elements of Mount Saint Charles’s centenary celebrations.
The first was a chalice used in the liturgical celebrations of Monsignor Charles Dauray, the pastor of Precious Blood Parish who was influential in the founding of Mount Saint Charles. This represented the school’s 100th anniversary and its deep historical roots. The second gift was a Chromebook taken from the school library, which represents progress and the school entering into a new era of education. The third gift consisted of two yearbooks, one from 1933 and the other from 2023, which represented the continuity between the past and the present. Finally, a bouquet of flowers was presented, meant to honor members of the Mount Saint Charles community who have died.
After Mass, the choir and musicians performed the new school song, “My School Upon the Hill,” written by John Guevermont, a graduate of Mount Saint Charles (1976).
“We stand at the intersection of history and the future,” said Alan Tenreiro, the principal of Mount Saint Charles Academy, in a series of remarks at the end of Mass. “It’s a moment to reflect on the values that have guided us — the unwavering commitment to compassion, the pursuit of knowledge, and the enduring strength that faith provides.”
“In a world that seems chaotic and unpredictable, Mount has been a sanctuary, a place where principles matter, where character is built, and where the echoes of love and kindness resound.”
Tenreiro, himself an alumnus of Mount Saint Charles, attested to the overwhelming emotions associated with being a part of the 100th anniversary celebrations.
“It’s certainly a great honor and a privilege to help not only our entire school community, but our alumni community and friends come together and celebrate this type of milestone for our school,” Tenreiro told the Rhode Island Catholic. “We’re so excited about not only talking about the legacy of our past but also how vibrant our community is in the present, and those things we are looking forward to in the future.”
“It’s been beautiful. Very, very good,” said Mike Kolsen, a parent of a Mount Saint Charles student. Kolsen, whose son is in the 10th grade, was attracted by many things at the school, including its academics and its athletics, but what drew him the most to send his child to the school was how Mount Saint Charles lies at the crossroads of spiritual formation and intellectual growth.
“We love Catholicism, the practice of the faith,” Kolsen said, describing the strong commitment to the faith as “very important.”
Mount Saint Charles Academy was officially incorporated in 1919, though it didn’t officially open its doors until 1924. The impetus for the founding of the school was the desire to meet the needs of the growing French Canadian immigrant population in the Woonsocket area. Following Monsignor Dauray’s desire to found a Catholic high school, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart were invited to teach at the school. Founded in the early 19th century in France, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart are a religious order common in the French-speaking world known for their strong emphasis on education.