For more than 120 years, the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill have been involved in the ministry of secondary education, providing environments that foster the development of the whole person—mind, heart, body, and soul. A Sparkill Dominican secondary school is focused on the pursuit of academic excellence within a faith-filled community that witnesses to the gospel.
The Sisters’ high school education ministry began in 1901 in Missouri with the founding of Holy Rosary High School in the small rural town of Monroe City. Soon after, St. Mark the Evangelist High School in St. Louis was established in 1909, a shining example of quality Catholic education for 66 years. Today, St. Dominic's High School in O'Fallon, Missouri, staffed by the Sparkill Dominicans since 1962, continues to flourish in the Dominican tradition.
As the Sisters’ first venture into secondary education in New York, Aquinas High School opened in 1923 and was a beacon of hope in the Bronx until its recent closing. Aquinas High School graduated thousands of young women over its 98 years of providing an excellent education to the changing immigrant populations of the Bronx. Aquinas High School Aquinas had the rare distinction of being designated a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education twice—in 1985 and again in 2000. Blue Ribbon School status is considered to be the highest honor an American school can achieve.
As the world rejoiced at the end of World War II in 1945, the congregation remodeled Holy Rosary Convent in Manhattan, transforming it from a childcare home for girls into Thorpe Secretarial School, named to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the congregation’s foundress, Mother Catherine Antoninus Thorpe. The Sisters also started and then, for over fifty years, staffed St. Edmund’s High School in Brooklyn which had begun as a two-year commercial high school. Today, as it prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2022, St. Edmund Preparatory High School continues in the spirit of the Sparkill Dominicans, providing a rigorous, faith-based education that inspires its graduates to live meaningful, purposeful lives.
In 1949, it was the dream of Monsignor Arthur J. Scanlan, pastor of St. Helena Parish in the Bronx, to educate all the students from kindergarten to Grade 12 in the newly built region known as Parkchester. Staffed by our Sisters, the high school became the largest parish secondary school in New York City. The Commercial High School also fulfilled a need in offering a two-year diploma to those who were preparing for immediate entry into the business world. In 1972, the name of the high school was changed to Monsignor Scanlan High School in honor of its founder.
In 1958, Sts. Peter & Paul High School was established to satisfy the needs of a growing Catholic community on the Eastern shore of Maryland. Four Sparkill Dominicans journeyed to Easton to open the high school. Although our Sisters have been gone from the school for many years, Sts. Peter & Paul High School continues to carry on the Sisters’ legacy by empowering their students in a faith-based environment rich in the Catholic tradition.
The Sparkill Dominicans also embraced the ministry of secondary education in their missions in Pakistan. In 1960, the Sisters opened Dominican Convent Higher Secondary School in Bahawalpur with fewer than 100 students. Today, the combined elementary and secondary school has an enrollment of more than 1300 students, both Muslim and Christian. A second high school, Ibn-e-Mariam (“Son of Mary”) was opened in 2004 in the primarily Christian village of Loreto. Read more about the Sisters’ Pakistan ministries.
The Sisters responded to the request by Francis Cardinal Spellman who had asked the congregation to provide more educational opportunities for the young people of Rockland County. The Sisters built and founded both a coeducational prep school, Albertus Magnus High School in Bardonia in 1956, and a girls’ high school in 1964, Rosary Academy in Sparkill. Today, Albertus Magnus students receive an education known for its academic excellence and are encouraged to live the four pillars of the Dominican tradition: prayer, study, community, and service. The Campus Ministry program provides a myriad of opportunities for the Albertus Magnus community to deepen their faith through the Eucharist, prayer, retreats, and community service.
Finally, in 1966 the Sparkill Dominicans and the Sisters of Mercy responded to a request from the Rockville Centre Diocese to jointly open a new coeducational diocesan high school in Hicksville, NY. Holy Trinity High School graduated its first class in 1970 with almost forty Sparkill Dominicans on staff as teachers and administrators.