Growing together in mind, body and spirit: Rochester Catholic Schools marks a milestone
As Rochester Catholic Schools (RCS) celebrates a major milestone — 140 years of educating and inspiring generations of leaders — its brand is evolving to reflect the system’s sustained solidarity.
This past week, the RCS system unveiled their new brand created in partnership with Strut, a brand strategy and design agency located in downtown Rochester. The rebrand has unified Rochester Catholic Schools under a singular identity, reflecting the shared story of its four schools that serve students from preschool through high school. Among the most symbolic changes, all RCS students are now recognized as Eagles.
“This rebrand has empowered us to communicate who we are as a Catholic school system and celebrate the history and culture that ties our community together,” said RCS Director of Schools, Michael Brennan.
The history of Rochester Catholic Schools dates back to 1877, and shares a similar story to one of Rochester’s other great institutions. It was, in fact, Mary Alfred Moes, who would go on to help create the Mayo Clinic, who founded the first Catholic school in Rochester: The
Academy of Our Lady of Lourdes.
A woman of strong faith, Mother Mary Alfred had moved to America two decades prior to teach Native-American children, and would go on to establish 23 schools in five states before even stepping foot in Rochester. It was out of her belief that everyone deserved an education that she enlisted the Sisters of Saint Francis to do the same for southeast Minnesota.
“The Catholic Church had long been concerned that children needed an education to help them find their way in society,” says Sister Ramona Miller from the Sisters of Saint Francis.
Staffed by six Franciscan Sisters with Mother Mary Alfred working as the director, the school welcomed more than 200 students in its first year. While the school continued to grow over the course of the next few years, it would be the mission of the Sisters that would evolve even more dramatically, and reshape Rochester’s history forever.
In 1883, a devastating tornado tore the region, killing 37 people and injuring more than 200 others. Like they had done for the school, Mother Mary Alfred and the Sisters of Saint Francis banded together help serve the community — by building and eventually staffing what would be known as St. Mary's Hospital.
“Some went to the hospital, some went to the school,” says Sister Ramona. “These dedicated women helped build the foundation for the systems we have now.”
As the story goes, Mother Mary Alfred and the Sisters would later join forces with a popular physician in town known as Dr. William Worrall (W.W.) Mayo, and his two sons, to form what is now one of the most respected and well-recognized medical institutions in the world. Adds Sister Ramona, “The Sisters were innovators.”
Today, Mayo Clinic and the Rochester Catholic Schools continue to endure and strengthen the community they serve. And nearly a century and a half, both institutions remain committed to the systems of values laid down before them by the Sisters of Saint Francis.
“Our Catholic School students have potential as leaders, so it’s important we make a moral imprint on their hearts and minds and teach them how to use their talents to influence societal progress,” says Sister Ramona.
The spirit and legacy of the Sisters of St. Francis continues to live on today in the students, teachers, and community of Rochester Catholic Schools. Since the beginning, innovation has served as a central characteristic for RCS and its mission to deliver a high quality Catholic education that focuses on the development of the whole person. With a culture founded upon the synthesis of faith and knowledge, RCS is governed by its guiding principle where all members of its community are growing together, in mind, body & spirit.
Cover photo by Rochester Catholic Schools