Sr Ellen, fcJ, is a chaplain at Maria Fidelis Catholic School FCJ in Somers Town, London. She writes about how the students have recently celebrated Founder’s Day by donating food for the Euston Foodbank
Maria Fidelis Catholic School FCJ, has an interesting history that goes all the way back to the French Revolution, when many Catholics were persecuted for their faith. Because of the persecution, French refugees came to England and settled in Somers Town, London. The original pastor of this small Catholic community was Abbé Carron.
Abbé Carron opened a humble chapel called “Our Lady of the Garden Gate”, on Skinner Street in Somers Town. This was the beginning of our present Catholic parish. He also provided schools, among them a boarding school for girls, and this boarding school was the nucleus of Saint Aloysius Secondary School now, Maria Fidelis Catholic School FCJ.
Abbé Carron was recalled to France by King Louis XVIII. But before he left England, he handed over the parish and the school in Somers Town to his colleague, and friend, Abbé Nerinckx. Abbé Caron told Fr Nerinckx that he had a vision that one day the school would pass into the hands of a religious community from France.
In 1830, two women arrived in Somers Town from France: Marie Madeleine d’Houët, the Foundress of the FCJ Sisters, and Julie Guillemet. Although they were disguised, Fr Nerinckx knew immediately that they were religious sisters. He was overjoyed and knew that they were an answer to prayer. Just after knowing these women for five days, on November 16, 1830, he handed over the care of the school and all the property attached to Marie Madeleine and Julie.
Maybe we shouldn’t ask, what are we celebrating today’ but who we are celebrating?
We celebrate Marie Madeleine and Julie Guillemet our founders.
We celebrate all those Teachers – FCJs and lay men and women who for 190 years have dedicated their lives to education.
We also celebrate ourselves, because we too are Marie Madeleine’s companions.
We strive daily to live Marie Madeleine values that she brought to Somers Town 190 years ago.
Those values upon which Marie Madeleine built our school, are values at the very heart of our daily life at Maria Fidelis: Excellence, Companionship, Dignity, Justice, Gentleness, Hope.
On Friday October 13, 2020, Maria Fidelis students celebrated Founder’s Day by bringing in food for the Euston Foodbank. Their generosity was overwhelming! This will make a huge difference to the lives of many local families. These small acts of kindness emulate the ethos of an FCJ school and the hope grown from these acts help to widen our circles of love.
Follow our FCJ Bicentenary (1820-2020) celebrations on the Bicentenary news page or on social media #FCJ200. Read more about the history of the FCJ Society in Britain since the arrival of the first sisters in London in 1830. Or check this resource: