October 27, 2022

Foundation Day Includes Reflection, Renewed Vows, and Honors

The Holy Angels community observed the 189th anniversary of the establishment of the School Sisters of Notre Dame on Foundation Day (Monday, October 24, 2022). Angels in Grades 6-12, faculty, staff, and several School Sisters attended the morning prayer service that honored the Academy’s foundresses and sponsors.

Caroline Gerhardinger (later known as Blessed Mother Theresa of Jesus) and two other women took their vows in Neunburg vorm Wald, Bavaria, on October 24, 1833. At that time, many convent schools were being closed due to political and religious sentiments that resulted from the French Revolution and Enlightenment. Mother Theresa, who had attended a school that was closed, made it her mission to provide others with a proper education. When Mother Theresa died in 1879, there were more than 2,500 SSNDs educating girls in elementary schools, day nurseries, and orphanages. The SSNDs also provided homes and night schools for girls working in factories.


AHA Director of Mission & Ministry Joan Connelly briefly discussed Mother Theresa’s work educating young women with a world vision. She also commented on Mother Caroline Friess, the “American foundress,” who took charge of the SSNDs in North America in 1850.

AHA Social Worker Sister Mary Foley, SSND, read from the SSND Constitution, “You Are Sent.”

The SSNDs who were present then renewed their vows and sang their blessing for the school community. Participating SSNDs included S. Kathleen Dunham, an educator and administrator who retired from the AHA Religious Studies Department in 2020; S. Mary Foley; S. Josefina Morales, a psychotherapist; S. Mary Kelly; S. Rebecca Tayag; and S. Carole Tabano, an AHA alumna and long-time Spanish teacher who retired in 2019.

AHA Campus Ministry Director Kathleen Sylvester, an SSND associate, made her re-covenant to the SSND community.

During the service, students and faculty members who attended the June 2022 SSND Mission Awareness Process trip to the Texas/Mexico border reflected on their experience. Participants included AHA Social Studies Department Chair Gail Fair, Kathleen Sylvester, and students Grace Cuttita, Breanna Hetzer, Jackie LaMastra, Raffaela Manoy, Marina Poire, Sydney Ponti, Ava Santoro, and Ava Tripodi. The trip allowed the travelers to witness the work being done by the SSNDs and understand the struggles immigrants face as they flee violence and hardship.

The ceremony also included the announcement of this year’s Sister Nonna Dunphy Scholarship Finalists and Semifinalists, and recognition for Angels who earned honors in the National Merit® Scholarship Competition, those who earned Commended Student status, and those who were honored in the National African-American, Indigenous, and Hispanic recognition programs.

Celine Hong qualified as a 2023 National Merit® Scholarship Program Semifinalist based on her excellent performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit® Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The College Board also honored several Angels as Commended Students for their exceptional academic promise. AHA’s honorees are Giselle Acosta, Sophia Carroll, Giovanna Corbisiero, Sophie Cossio, Caroline Dupas, Ava Goyal, Annabelle Hur, Anna Jang, Shivani Sahu, Emily Sapka, Isabel Stein, Faith Youn, and Cecilia Yun.


Senior Catherine Tuohy earned the distinction of becoming the first Angel to be honored by the National Indigenous Recognition Program. Sophia Chounoune (AHA ’24) was honored in the National African-American Recognition Program, and Alexandra Valdez (AHA ’24), qualified for the National Hispanic Recognition Program and the National Black/African-American Recognition Program. AHA seniors who received NHRP honors include Natalia Antaki, Morgan Battaglia, Keira Footer, Hannah Janiec, Jaclyn Larraz, and Areliz Tamayo.

For details about AHA’s honorees, scholarship winners, and the MAP Trip to Texas, visit our News page today.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from many backgrounds. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.