Bishop Hendricken High School, named for the Most Rev. Thomas F. Hendricken, first Bishop of Providence, opened its doors to some 350 students in 1959.
Born of the Vision of the late Russell J. McVinney, Bishop of Providence, the school is located on 34 acres of land in Warwick, Rhode Island, was originally staffed by the Brothers of the Holy Cross, and run in their traditions as a private Catholic high school.
Two short years later, with enrollment increasing in all parochial schools, the 22-classroom building had reached its limit of some 800 students. Through the 1960’s, the school flourished, gaining recognition for achievements in sports and academics.
In 1970, the Brothers of the Holy Cross announced plans to leave Bishop Hendricken. The decision saddened the entire school community, enrollment plummeted, and it appeared likely that the school’s doors would close. Loyal teachers, parents, students, and alumni came together and spearheaded a campaign to save the school.
Through the intercession of Bishop McVinney, the Congregation of Christian Brothers agreed to bring their considerable talent to staff the school. The Diocese of Providence made the necessary funds available, and in September of 1971, with Br. Thomas Feerick as Principal and Br. James Liguori as Assistant Principal, the school opened as usual: now as a diocesan, Catholic secondary school with the Congregation of Christian Brothers at the helm and the Bishop Hendricken High School Corporation as the governing board.
The Brothers immediately started intense recruitment efforts to bolster a dwindling enrollment.
In the spirit of the Vatican Council II, calling for shared responsibility and participatory decision making, the Bishop Hendricken High School Corporation established a Board of Directors in 1990. In 1995, the Board of Directors commissioned the development of the first Strategic Plan for the school, “Hendricken 2020”. This plan outlines an ambitious program to position the school for strength and growth. The most pressing needs identified by the Strategic Plan can be summarized in two major initiatives: establishing an Endowment Fund, and physical and technological growth.
To address these needs, with the permission of Most Rev. Robert E. Mulvee, Bishop of Providence, the school in 1997 launched its first significant fundraising campaign, Lighting the Way – An Investment in the Future, with a $1 million goal to take Bishop Hendricken well into the 21st century. The Schiblers and the Hagertys, together with Bishop Mulvee and the Board of Directors, led an effort that will enhance the lives of young men today and tomorrow.
In 1997 and early 1998, the school was blessed with the following additions that were made possible from the Lighting the Way campaign: a 16,000 square foot South Gymnasium; a 5,000 square foot outdoor street hockey/basketball area; a redesigned West Gate on Oakland Beach Avenue; a 6,000 square foot West Wing of classrooms (including a 29-Pentium computer laboratory which has internet access for the students); and a website to keep the school up-to-date with the technology of the times.
In 2005, construction began on an Arts & Technology Wing that includes 11 new classrooms, a Science Lab, a Math Lab, Music practice rooms, a new Band Room, as well as a multi-use Choral Room, a Digital Production Studio, and a magnificent 350 seat Theater, where award-winning productions have been standard fare for the past 6 years.
In August 2010, the Christian Brothers announced that due to declining vocations they would no longer be able to staff Bishop Hendricken after the 2010-2011 school year. While this news is indeed sad, we are heartened by the strong foundation of excellence that the brothers have left. Our Mission statement and the Essential Elements of a Christian Brother education will continue to be the guiding lights of our school well into the future.
We thank all of the 68 Christian brothers who staffed our school over these past 40 years. In a particular way, we thank the “Final Four:” Brothers Mike Binkley, Steve Casey, John Kiernan, and Tom Leto for their wisdom, understanding, and faith. We pledge to you and to the entire Christian Brother family that we will carry on the legacy of your Founder, Blessed Edmund Rice.
Brother Rice’s invincible spirit lives on in classrooms throughout the world, where Brothers faithful to the heritage given to them by this modest and holy man daily carry out his work of love. And it lives among all those who through nearly two centuries have reaped the benefits of such an education. Echoing on the lips of Christian Brothers everywhere, we hear Blessed Edmund’s own words repeated through the ages:
Live, Jesus, in our hearts. Forever!
Thanks to the influence and generosity of the Bishop Hendricken community—current students and parents, alumni, friends, businesses, and foundations – our school looks to a positive and rewarding future in the next millennium.