Growing up on Medford Street: St. Agnes School and Arlington Catholic High School

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St. Agnes School, Arlington -- 1888/ Arlington Catholic High School -- 1960

Scripture says Joseph was a just man. We know of Joseph's love and devotion to Mary and Jesus, shepherding them to Egypt to escape persecution. Much like the refugees of today, they had to leave their homeland for their own safety and protection. Joseph was completely open to all God wanted him to do. St. Joseph is always in the hearts of all Sisters of St. Joseph.

I have had the honor and privilege of serving at Arlington Catholic High School for the past 31 years. For 28 years, I served as campus minister and theology teacher, and I am presently beginning my third year in Alumni Relations. The Sisters of St. Joseph opened and staffed St. Agnes School in 1888. Arlington Catholic High School opened in 1960. The Sisters have served St. Agnes Parish and schools continuously for 135 years! While we no longer have large numbers of Sisters in parishes, I stand on the shoulders of all the sisters who served at parish schools and in parish ministries.

St. Agnes School and Arlington Catholic High School is the only remaining parish in the Archdiocese of Boston to have both an elementary school and high school. In 2017, in consultation with clergy, faculty, staff, and constituencies, the parish decided to create one school -- a seamless approach to educating students. St. Agnes School and Arlington Catholic High School joined together to take two strong schools and make one stronger school with a continuous, unified program for students in Pre-K through grade 12. In 2020, the school committed to cultivating diversity, inclusion, and belonging for all. The moderators of diversity, equity, and inclusion work to empower others within the Arlington Catholic community to prioritize this extended mission as a key practice in their classrooms, on the field, the stage, and in all areas of school life. In 2021, St. Agnes and Arlington Catholic High School welcomed the Early Learning Center to offer care for infants and toddlers. This care completes the strong continuous program offered for children from infancy through grade 12. There are currently over 800 students at the school, coming from more than 47 cities and towns representing more than 50 parishes in the archdiocese, as well as eight countries. The students do truly grow up on Medford Street!

The Sisters of St. Joseph always serve the dear neighbor -- anyone in need. The students at St. Agnes and Arlington Catholic continue to model the good deeds of the Sisters in their service to others. The students serve at soup kitchens, coordinate clothing and food drives, bring awareness to cancer, work with developmentally challenged people in the Learn to Skate program, distribute socks and sandwiches to the homeless, and offer cultural awareness days. They continue to live out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and study all aspects of Catholic social teaching in their theology classes.

Countless Sisters of St. Joseph have served St. Agnes Parish, St. Agnes School, and Arlington Catholic. We give special praise and recognition to the following women who have served the Parish.

Sister Anne Nolan -- longest serving principal of St. Agnes School;

Sister Cathy Clifford -- longest serving principal of Arlington Catholic;

Sister Mary Scanlon -- longest serving Sister of St. Joseph faculty, Arlington Catholic

Sister Peggy Lowell -- pastoral minister, St. Agnes Parish, working with the elderly

Today, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston continue their great legacy of education in many ways. They educate people in the care of the earth, health care, spiritual ministries, literacy, immigration, prison work, women's issues, human trafficking, parish and school ministries, and the like.

As we celebrate the Sisters of St. Joseph's 150 years in Boston -- past and present who have served the "dear neighbor" at St. Agnes and Arlington Catholic, we thank them for their selfless service working side by side with many dedicated lay men and women who have given countless hours of service to the many students of Arlington and beyond.

Sister Barbara McHugh, CSJ, works in the office of alumni relations at Arlington Catholic High School.