By Sr. Margaret Hoffman
"There aren’t too many things that last 125 years any more" was a comment made recently at the anniversary celebration for Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Redwood City, and I thought how true that is and how glad I am that Mt. Carmel School is one of them!
In 1885 Father Michael Riordan invited four Sisters of Notre Dame to begin teaching in the first school building located on El Camino Real. We’re told that 50 students arrived the first day only to be sent home because the school desks had not arrived. During the 1906 earthquake the school was damaged, but public demand ensured that the Sisters returned shortly afterwards. In 1932 community-wide celebrations and a parade through downtown marked the opening of the new school a short six blocks away from the original site.
To fast forward to the present, here are a few of my observations from the 125th Anniversary Mass and the Open House:
- The sweet voices of the children singing to the accompaniment of the bells at the Mass; the composed and articulate children of all ages making readings and offering intentions
- The strong sense of community one felt in the crowd–someone commenting that it was "generational"
- Recognition of the solid foundation provided by our Sisters and the strong dedication of the teachers who have followed
- The still beautiful Mission-style school building seeming simply timeless it is so well kept, yet obviously in tune with the times with state-of-the-art technology and quality student work
- Pastor John Belleza and longtime Principal Teresa Anthony clearly united in support of a school valued by parents and students alike–and reaching out to embrace the burgeoning Latino community.
We Sisters who attended the Anniversary Mass celebrated by Archbishop George Niederauer had been students and/or teachers/administrators at Mt. Carmel. Nostalgia was strong in our hearts, never more than at the conclusion of the Mass, when, yes, we and alums present stood and proudly sang the school song–"In a fertile valley nestling . . .!" What a wonderful day!
- For more information about continuing celebrations and special events at Mt. Carmel School