This year, the Faithful Companions of Jesus Sisters are celebrating 180 years of ministry in Somers Town, central London. Marie Madeleine D’Houet founded the congregation in France in 1820 and hoped the Sisters would be involved in education, retreats and missions. In 1830 she came to London where French émigrés had settled during the troubles in France. The area around Tottenham Court Road and Somers Town became known as ‘Little France’, and it was here, in the then Clarendon Square, that the Abbé Carron built St Aloysius Church in 1798 and also schools for poor children. Marie Madeleine arrived here in November 1830 and the parish priest Father Nérinckx handed over the girls’ school to her. The Sisters have been involved in the parish ever since.
Later, the Faithful Companions of Jesus established convents in Poplar and Isleworth, before moving north, where they opened schools and provided free education for the poor. They worked in many parishes supporting needy families and preparing both children and adults for reception of the Sacraments. Today the Sisters are still involved in education and parishes, but are also working in centres for immigrants, hospital and prison chaplaincies and retreat centres throughout the world.
The school founded by Abbé Carron later became St Aloysius Convent Grammar School, but in 1974 it amalgamated with St Vincent’s School, Carlisle Place, under the new name of Maria Fidelis Convent School FCJ.
This Friday, 19 November, at 11am representatives from other FCJ schools in England – Bellerive, Gumley House, and Upton Hall – will be join Maria Fidelis School at a Mass of Thanksgiving in Westminster Cathedral, celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Joining them were former staff members, governors, friends and FCJ Sisters who have been involved in the school over long years. The sisters thank God for 180 years of service to Catholic Education in London. (The Sisters and pupils begin arriving at 10.30am - when there will be music. The Mass proper starts at 11.15pm)
For more information on the Faithful Companions of jesus see: www.fcjsisters.org/index.html