About Ursuline

Our Heritage

The mission and rich heritage of Ursuline High School are rooted in the vision of Saint Angela Merici who founded the Order of Saint Ursula in Brescia, Italy, in 1535. At a time when the talents and abilities of women were largely forgotten, Angela realized the crucial role of women in the church and the world, as expressed in her writings: “Love your daughters equally; do not prefer one more than another, because they are all creatures of God. And you do not know what He wants to make of them.”

Angela’s vision and mission quickly spread throughout Europe and the education of girls became a primary ministry of the Ursuline order. The first religious order to reach North America, the French Ursulines founded a school in Quebec in 1639. They opened a convent and academy in New Orleans in 1727, the first school for girls in what is now the continental United States.

At the invitation of the Reverend John Conway, the Archbishop of San Francisco, the Most Reverend Bishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany, in 1880, invited the Ursulines of Brown County, Ohio, to make a foundation in Sonoma County. The Ursulines arrived in Santa Rosa in 1880 and took possession of the former Cambellite College on “B” Street where they opened a “Select School for Girls”, known successively as the Ursuline College, Ursuline Academy, and eventually as Ursuline High School. In 1889 Ursuline College was incorporated with a charter as a non-profit corporation to teach and confer degrees. In 1912 the high school was accredited by the University of California.

By the 1950s an ever-increasing enrollment and the rapidly aging building necessitated a move to suburban Santa Rosa. Construction was begun on the 58 acre Howarth Estate in 1956. On October 17, 1956, the doors of the old school were closed and on the following Monday, classes were held at the new Ursuline.

In 1963 the campus expanded with the addition of the “Quad” area and the auditorium-gymnasium. In the same year, Cardinal Newman Diocesan High School opened on the Ursuline campus. With the subsequent completion of Cardinal Newman buildings, the two schools began limited sharing of classes and facilities. This cooperation between Ursuline and Cardinal Newman, which has continued to the present, has enriched the curriculum and the students of both schools.

Ursuline discontinued its boarding school in 1974. The north wing of the former Residence Hall has been remodeled to house additional classrooms and is currently known as Angela Hall. The living room of the Residence Hall, known as Brescia Hall, now houses the music program. The lower level of the Residence Hall has been enclosed and is the location of the art room and the counseling center.

In 1987 the Ursuline Sisters delegated responsibility for Ursuline High School to a Board of Trustees, appointed by and accountable to the Ursuline Provincial Council. The Provincial Council is also known as the Ursuline Board of Directors. The principal continues as chief administrator under direction of the Board of Trustees.

The Ursuline Sisters have established a long history in education and, assisted by lay teachers, are maintaining a Christ-centered atmosphere in which students may recognize and grow toward their potential. Together, the faculty and staff of this school strive toward the development of a Christian atmosphere and accept their responsibility to help students acquire the skills and characteristics of an educated Christian.

St. Angela Statue

St. Angela Statue