History of Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary

Today the school is a reflection of its Mission, a Catholic college-preparatory high school owned and operated by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. CSHM maintains an environment which promotes Gospel values while celebrating the diversity of the community which it serves. Under the leadership of Mr. Eric Crespo and a dedicated faculty and staff, students develop their own self-worth and respect for others, while teachers encourage personal responsibility and challenge students to share their unique gifts to build a just and peaceful society.
Cantwell High School
Established 1947 by The Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Sacred Heart of Mary High School
Established 1942 by The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary
Cantwell High School was named after
His Eminence, Archbishop John J. Cantwell
Archbishop of Los Angeles, 1917-1947
Though the people of a new era probably associate Cantwell primarily with a high school bearing that name, John J. Cantwell left his mark and a prominent one at that, in the Catholic annals of Southern California. In fact, he was a pioneer whose stature contrasts favorably with the Golden State’s great missionary founders.
The Archdiocese of San Francisco provided California’s Southland with a shepherd and only once has that favor been repaid. The prelate given to the City of the Angels by the Bay City was John J. Cantwell, whose thirty-year episcopate has yet to be matched in years of active service.
John Cantwell was one of seven California prelates from the Emerald Isle. Born in Limerick, Ireland, he was baptized in Saint Michael’s Church on December 7, 1874, the only one of Patrick and Ellen Cantwell’s ten children not initiated into the Mystical Body at the ancestral city of Fethard (Feth’ard). At the age of six, he was enrolled in the Patrician Monastery National School and later in the nearby Classical Academy. Young Cantwell began to prepare for the clerical life he was to share with three of his brothers in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. From Fethard, John Cantwell attended Sacred Heart College in Limerick near the George Street home of his grandparents.
In 1892, the future bishop entered Saint Patrick’s College at Thurles (Thur’les), one of Ireland’s renown seminaries and spent the following seven years preparing for ordination. He was raised to the priesthood on June 18, 1899, at the hands of Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne, in the 19th century Cathedral of the Assumption.
Soon after his ordination, Father Cantwell arrived in San Francisco and served at Saint Joseph’s Church in Berkeley for the next five years. An enthusiastic promoter of educational activities, he helped to organize the Newman Club at the University of California and taught classes at Saint Joseph’s Presentation Convent. He became secretary to Archbishop Patrick W. Riordan in 1905, and nine years later he was promoted to Vicar General under Archbishop Edward J. Hanna. He was appointed to the long vacant Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles in 1917, after having refused an assignment in Salt Lake City some years earlier.
Staggering problems that faced the young bishop on his arrival in Los Angeles were manifold; but he took as his yardstick the sage advice of his longtime friend, Father Peter C. Yorke: “Get the little ones to love Christ…concentrate on Christian education of the youth and you will be a great success in the eyes of the Lord.”
The admonition was well rendered and better received. In his first pastoral letter, Bishop Cantwell called on his clergy to assist in enrolling every Catholic child in a parochial school, noting that “…the hope of a Christian future, the preservation of faith, the welfare of families, the prosperity of nations, and the Christian character of our civilization depends upon the Christian education of our children.” Cantwell further stated that “Catholic school…is the conservator of faith and morals, the training ground of future champions of religion and morality.”
It was his objective of placing “Catholic education within easy reach,” that prompted Archbishop Cantwell to establish a diocesan Board of Education in 1918.
During an episcopate that stretched over three full decades, Bishop Cantwell saw his original diocese divided twice. In 1922, the Monterey-Fresno area was detached and again in 1936, San Diego became a district ecclesiastical jurisdiction. By October 10, 1947, the date of his death, Archbishop John J. Cantwell had established 159 Catholic educational institutions, five seminaries, four colleges, thirty-five high schools, and 115 elementary schools.
On April 13, 1947, the official dedication of Cantwell High School took place. The secondary school for boys, named for the proto Archbishop John J. Cantwell, was opened for registration on September 9, 1946. the first classes assembled temporarily on the top floor of Saint Alphonsus Elementary School for the early weeks.
Located on a picturesque seventeen-acre campus in Montebello, California, the new high school structure contained twenty-one classrooms, a full service education and athletic facility. At the dedication, bishop Joseph T. McGucken spoke for the Archbishop and noted that the school was the culmination of an episcopate that began thirty years earlier in what was then the Diocese of Monterey-LosAngeles. Archbishop Cantwell said he would “expect exceptional things” from the students. Saint Philip of Jesus (Felipe de Jesús) was chosen as patron of the school. He was born in Mexico of Spanish parents around 1575. As a young man, Felipe de las Casas joined the Franciscan Monastery to prepare for the priesthood. However, Felipe and twenty-three of his shipmates enroute to Japan, were martyred on crosses before Felipe could return to the monastery for his ordination.
As the flag was raised over the “largest addition to the Archdiocesan school system,” the legendary Joseph Scott, (Mr. Los Angeles) paid tribute to the teaching qualities of the Christian Brothers who constituted the initial faculty. The Irish Christian Brothers had long influenced Bishop Cantwell as he attended the Patrician Brothers Monastery National School in Fethard in his early childhood years.
On-going changes occurred over the years and with the closure of nearby Sacred Heart of Mary High School in 1991, the girls attending that institution were incorporated into Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School thus extended the dream of Archbishop John J. Cantwell’s vision to provide an opportunity of a Catholic education for all God’s children.
As part of the Mission Statement, the religious statues on the property are physical examples of the promotion of Gospel values within the school community. Enhancements to the campus include but are not limited to the renovations and improvements of the landscape to create a 17½ acre park-like setting in the city of Montebello. In recent years, remarkable improvements sustain Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary as one of the premier secondary educational facilities in the Los Angeles area.
Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary
The Institute of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM) was founded in Beziers, France in 1849, by Venerable Pere Pierre Jean Antoine Gailhac and Mere St. Jean Cure Pelissier. From its very foundation, the religious community was drawn to the educational apostolate. Since that time, the Sisters have engaged in the ministry of education in sixteen countries on four continents. In the late nineteenth century, the first schools were established in the United States. While education of the whole person is the general aim of all schools, Sacred Heart of Mary schools are committed to the attainment of this goal through a deep belief in God’s calling each person to the fullness of life.
The mission of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary has been articulated as, “To know and love God; to make God known and loved; to proclaim that Jesus Christ has come in order that all may have life.” (RSHM Constitutions #7) Mary is the model as the Sisters seek to be open to the Spirit, to center their lives in Jesus Christ, to be women of prayer and compassion, and to give authentic and joyful witness to the values of the gospel. This mission finds expression as a Marymount school, identified as an educational institution belonging to the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary network.
Sacred Heart of Mary High School in Montebello, was founded in 1942 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. Holy Mass was offered for the girls at Sacred Heart of Mary High School for the first time on November 23, 1942. The entire student body attended the liturgy celebrated at 660 South Saybrook Avenue in Montebello. The school was formally dedicated the following June 30th with Archbishop Cantwell presiding. In his address, he spoke of the significance of Catholic education. The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary became the focal point of all religious activities.
In 1956, a beautiful new building was completed at 441 North Garfield Avenue, and in September, 1957, 450 girls enrolled at the new Sacred Heart of Mary High School. In 1961, ground was broken for an 800 seat auditorium.
As stated before, in 1990, Cantwell High School and Sacred Heart of Mary High School merged as a co-educational institution, and was named, Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School.
CSHM embraces the RSHM mission and goals:
To foster a personal relationship with God
To create unity through diversity
To instill a life-long love of learning
To encourage and affirm personal growth
To awaken a consciousness of social justice
To fulfill the RSHM mission: “That all may have life.” (Jn. 10:10)
Patron Saints of Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High School
Saint Felipe de Jesús
Patron of Cantwell High School
Saint Philip of Jesus (Felipe de Jesús) was born of Spanish parents in Mexico around 1572. As a young man, Felipe de las Casas joined the Franciscan Monastery to prepare for the priesthood. After a few months, he left the Monastery, went to the Philippines and lived the life of a young, prosperous businessman. However, the memory of the peaceful monastery haunted Felipe, and he returned to the Franciscans.
Young Felipe was on his way to Mexico to be ordained a priest when the ship, hit by a violent storm, was driven off course near the coast of Japan. Some time before that, the Emperor had banned all missionaries from Japan. Unfortunately, the ship was armed. The proud emperor suspected an invasion, so he seized the ship and sentenced those on board, including Felipe and all the missionaries, to death.
Felipe and twenty-three other Franciscans, Jesuits, and laymen had parts of their ears cut off, and with blood running down their cheeks, they were paraded through several towns as a warning to the people.
Felipe and his companions arrived near Nagasaki, the place of execution. They were tied to crosses with ropes and chains, iron collars were placed about their necks. The twenty-four crosses were “planted” in a row each about four feet apart. Each martyr had an executioner with a spear ready to stab the victim (the Japanese method of crucifixion) at a given signal. They were killed at almost the same instant. It was February 5, 1597; Felipe was twenty-two years old.
These twenty-four martyrs, including Saint Philip of Jesus, were canonized in 1862. The are honored on February 5th, their feast day.
Sacred Heart of Mary
Patroness of Sacred Heart of Mary High School
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the most symbolic patron of all the saints. The poor, the lonely, the hurting experience her gentle care. She is the perfect example of a mother’s unconditional love for her child. She accepted her role as the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ with open arms and a willing heart filled with the spirit of love. On December 8, 1942, Pope Pius XII dedicated the Church and the whole human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He assigned the feast to be celebrated on August 22 and extended it to the entire Latin Church.
In the revision of the liturgical calendar following the Second Vatican Council, the feat of the Sacred Heart of Mary was moved to be closer to the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mary’s feast is now celebrated on the Saturday after the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which is observed on the Friday after Corpus Christi.

Compiled by Louis H. Metoyer, Campus Minister, CSHM and Sister Rose Marie Wilson, OSF 2006-2007