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 Most Reverend 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 at all parochial schools, the 22-classroom building had reached its limit of nearly 800 students. Through the 1960’s, the school flourished, gaining recognition for achievements in academics and athletics.
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. In response, loyal teachers, parents, students, and alumni came together to spearhead a campaign to save the school.
Through the intercession of Bishop McVinney, the Congregation of Christian Brothers agreed 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 school’s first strategic plan, “Hendricken 2020”. This plan outlined an ambitious program to position the school for strength and evolution, including establishing an endowment fund, and initiatives for physical and technological growth.
In 1997, the school launched its first significant fundraising campaign to address these needs: “Lighting the Way – An Investment in the Future.” The campaign had a $1 million goal to take Bishop Hendricken well into the 21st century. The Schiblers and the Hagertys, together with the Most Reverend Robert E. Mulvee, Bishop of Providence, and the Board of Directors, led an effort that immensely enhanced the school, and the lives of our students.
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 Pepin 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 community up-to-date with school news, developments, and information.
In 2005, construction began on an Arts & Technology wing that includes 11 new classrooms, a science lab, a math lab, music practice rooms, band room, choral room, the Ni-Ro-Pe Digital Media Studio, and the magnificent 350-seat Dr. Daniel S. Harrop Theater.
In August 2010, the Christian Brothers announced that they would no longer be able to staff Bishop Hendricken due to declining vocations. While the school community was saddened by the news, it was heartened by the strong foundation of excellence that the brothers left. To this day, the Essential Elements of a Christian Brother education continue to be the guiding lights of our school, our community, and our mission.
Our school is tremendously grateful for the work of all 68 Christian Brothers who staffed our school for over 40 years. In a particular way, we thank the final Christian Brothers to share their wisdom, understanding, and faith with our school community: Mike Binkley, Steve Casey, John Kiernan, and President Thomas Leto.
Amid the departure of the Christian Brothers, Bishop Hendricken High School named John A. Jackson ’71 its first lay president in September 2010. Under his tenure, Jackson guided the transition of the school, upholding the values of Blessed Edmund Rice and the Christian Brothers, and reaffirming its Catholic identity. To this end, the school continued to thrive and grow academically, athletically, artistically, and in service.
In June 2018, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence, appointed Mark R. DeCiccio ’03 as Bishop Hendricken’s newest principal. Named 2018 Rhode Island First Year Principal, DeCiccio is known as a highly collaborative education who focuses on creating a positive and safe school culture through supportive relationships and dedicated leadership.
Thanks to the influence and generosity of the Bishop Hendricken community—current students and parents, alumni, friends, faculty, staff, administration, businesses, and foundations – our school continues to provide the very best in Catholic education to young men in an effort to develop them into global citizens of character, faith, and intellect.