In 1931, three Dominican Sisters traveled up the Hill to take possession of our beautiful school
carrying only “a statue of the Blessed Virgin, a $5 bill and
their faith.” FSHA has grown in ways no one could have imagined then, and today offers cutting-edge academic opportunities, unparalleled co-curricular experiences and a dedicated and talented faculty.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic, Dominican, independent, college-preparatory, day and boarding school, educates young women for a life of faith, integrity, and truth.
"FSHA is much more than just a high school. When you marry single-sex education with the Dominican charism ... that is powerful." —Rita Illig Liebelt ’76 (Megan ’06, Anna ’12)
An integrated life of study, prayer, service, and community, predicated on the motto of Veritas — truth — constitutes the pillars of Dominican life, and the foundation of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. In the spirit of Saint Dominic and Mother Maria Pia Backes, foundress of the Mission San Jose Dominican Sisters, FSHA was established in 1931 for the education of young women. FSHA shares in the 800-year heritage of the Dominican Order of Preachers, which is embedded in Catholic faith.
Diversity is a vital element of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s mission to educate young women for a life of faith, integrity and truth. At FSHA, we seek to create and sustain a vibrant, inclusive community and we value and appreciate the uniqueness contained within each person so as to honor the diversity of God’s creation.
Catholic & Dominican: The Four Pillars
The Dominican Order (also known as the Order of the Preachers) is a Roman Catholic religious order best known for their commitment to holistic education, the pursuit of truth (Veritas) and their focus on preaching — spreading the Gospel through words and actions to inspire change. Founded by St. Dominic de Guzman (1172-1221) in 1219, the order embraced a life of prayer and study, which led to a ministry of preaching in poverty – the early beginnings of the four Dominican pillars of Prayer, Study, Community and Service.
The Four Pillars
Also known as the Holy Preaching, the four Dominican Pillars are the four standards of life that Dominicans live by. Based on the life and teachings of our founder, St. Dominic, the four pillars are equally necessary to provide a strong foundation in our lives. The four pillars are not meant to stand alone, instead they need one another, in the same way that our lives need balance. In this way, the four pillars are all interrelated: each one is strengthened by the other three. The four Dominican Pillars are prayer, study, community and service. When the four pillars are working together in unity, Dominicans call this the Holy Preaching.
What is Veritas?
Latin for “truth,” Veritas is one of the mottos of the Dominican order. Dominicans are searchers. They are constantly in pursuit of a deeper and fuller understanding of the truth. Whether it be in their studies, their relationships, their faith, or elsewhere, Dominicans are constantly craving and pursuing the truth in all things.
History of the Hill
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy was founded by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose in 1931. The school’s original Mission-style buildings, designed in 1927 as a resort hotel by noted Southern California architect Myron Hunt, overlook the San Gabriel Valley and the Pasadena Rose Bowl from the crest of the scenic San Rafael Hills.
The resort, originally built and managed by Senator Frank P. Flint, opened in 1927 as the Flintridge Hotel and was soon after sold to the Biltmore Hotel chain. Unfortunately, the hilltop retreat was deemed too expensive to maintain and closed shortly after the onset of the Great Depression. At the same time, the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose were making plans to build a convent and girls’ school on a tract of land they had purchased in Sierra Madre.
After hearing about the hotel's closure, Archbishop Cantwell, the first archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, contacted the Dominican Sisters and suggested that the abandoned hotel would suit their needs. After careful consideration, the Sisters purchased the entire resort — including the nine original buildings, hotel furnishings and surrounding land — at auction for $150,000. According to legend, on August 15, 1931, three Dominican Sisters traveled up the hill to take possession of their new school, bringing a five-dollar bill, a statue of the Blessed Mother and their faith. The school opened for the first day of classes two weeks later — on September 2, 1931 — with 200 students enrolled in grades 1 through 12.
Originally a boarding school, FSHA began accepting day students in 1952, phasing out the elementary grades and becoming exclusively a high school. From the beginning, the school’s day population drew from a wide geographical area that now includes the entire Los Angeles basin, with many joining us from the neighboring communities in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. International boarding students have flocked to FSHA from all over the world since the day the school was founded!
One of the reasons FSHA is such a special place is that Dominican Sisters actually live on campus and work in the school. The Dominican Sisters who live on campus make up the Flintridge Sacred Heart Priory. These sisters hold a variety of jobs. Some work at FSHA, serving as faculty, staff or administrators, while others work outside the school in other vocations, such as pastoral advisors or social workers.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Priory is a convent of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. The Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose were founded by Mother Maria Pia Backes in 1876 with the intent to serve “the young, the poor and the vulnerable.” Today the congregation is made up of 195 Dominican Sisters who live in northern and southern California, Arizona and Mexico. The Dominican Sisters of MSJ sponsor three schools— FSHA, Immaculate Conception Academy, a Christo Rey school (all girls college prep high school) in San Francisco and Saint Catherine Academy, an elementary boys boarding day school with a military tradition in Anaheim.
Red roses are a big part of the Flintridge Sacred Heart experience, representing the love and sisterhood that’s shared among the girls. At the Junior Ring ceremony each fall, seniors present their junior classmates with their new class rings – which are very similar to the rings worn by alumnae from the 1930s and 1940s – and receive a single red rose in return. The ritual repeats itself at Candle Rose (left) at the end of the year, when seniors and juniors exchange lit candles and roses, symbolizing the transfer of wisdom and leadership to the younger class. Every senior who walks at Graduation carries a bouquet of red roses, and after the graduates sing the alma mater together for the last time as a class, they toss rose petals from their bouquets in the air to celebrate.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is an all girls' Catholic, Dominican, independent, college-preparatory day and boarding high school in the hills of La Cañada Flintridge. Overlooking Pasadena, FSHA educates girls from Los Angeles, Southern California and around the world for a life of faith, integrity and truth.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy
440 St. Katherine Drive La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011 Phone: 626-685-8300