Sacred Heart Purchases Notre Dame Catholic High School

News release from Sacred Heart University:

Sacred Heart University and the Diocese of Bridgeport have reached an agreement for the University to purchase Notre Dame Catholic High School for $15 million. The two institutions have a long history of cooperation and partnership that will be strengthened by making it official, representatives from both sides say.

This partnership has included sharing facilities, such as athletics fields, SHU’s library and Chapel of the Holy Spirit, parking lot space at Notre Dame and more. SHU also has, for many years, offered a 50% tuition scholarship to Notre Dame students who are accepted to the University. A great many Notre Dame students have gone on to receive degrees from Sacred Heart. Since 2018, approximately 20% of each Notre Dame graduating class has gone on to study at SHU.

“We are excited to have Notre Dame’s students, faculty, staff and alumni to the SHU family. We look forward to maximizing resources, making improvements and creating new and exciting opportunities for students at both Notre Dame and SHU. We welcome this chance to ensure that students continue to receive a top-level Catholic education that will prepare them for the future,” said SHU President John J. Petillo.

“While we anticipate great work from collaboration between the high school and University, we all recognize the unique differences between high school and college students. This agreement is based on a clear recognition of the need to establish the appropriate separations to ensure a true Catholic ministerial experience for Notre Dame students even as they become a part of this strong Catholic University,” said Bridgeport Diocese Bishop Frank J. Caggiano.

Notre Dame’s faculty and staff will also be provided tuition reimbursement when taking classes at Sacred Heart, expanded lab opportunities from the Farrington College of Education & Human Development and access to other areas of clinical study.

Proceeds from the sale will be placed in a new fund to support and strengthen Catholic secondary education throughout the diocese, provide scholarships and protect faculty pensions. There will be no direct benefit to the diocese, Caggiano said.

The bishop will continue to advise on the Catholic identity that is fundamental to Notre Dame High School.

Petillo noted that Sacred Heart would invest at least $5 million in the school and property that could include physical improvements, building infrastructure, technology upgrades and updated athletic facilities. This will start within six months of the closing date with an assessment to determine needed upgrades and priorities. Renovations will follow over the next two years.

“We are two Catholic institutions that share a common mission and vision. I’m looking forward to working even more collaboratively and strengthening the long-standing academic and community relationship between our two schools,” Petillo said. “Adding a successful high school like Notre Dame to our portfolio is a natural expansion of our brand and our commitment to Catholic education and to the local community.” SHU’s portfolio includes the SHU Community Theatre in downtown Fairfield, the Sacred Heart University Discovery Center & Planetarium in Bridgeport and Great River Golf Club in Milford. As is the case with these facilities, Notre Dame will serve as a learning experience and training ground for SHU students. For example, faculty, staff and students from SHU’S Farrington College of Education & Human Development will have the opportunity to collaborate professionally with their counterparts at Notre Dame in new and meaningful ways that will enhance outcomes for both organizations.

Both Petillo and Caggiano emphasized that Notre Dame will always be part of the high school’s name in recognition of the school’s long history and proud and distinguished alumni.

Caggiano expressed appreciation and gratitude to the Notre Dame Advisory Board and Principal Chris Cipriano for their vision and guidance.

“I am excited about the opportunities this new relationship with Sacred Heart will provide to our school community,” Cipriano said. “As we build upon our existing partnership, I see tremendous opportunities for our staff and—most importantly—our students. I believe some of our best days truly lie ahead.”

Nearly 14,000 students have graduated from Notre Dame in its 67-year history. It was originally housed in what is now the Academic Center on Sacred Heart’s Park Avenue Campus.

There will be a yearlong period of transition after the deal is finalized in June during which faculty and staff at Notre Dame will remain unchanged. The school’s board will continue to serve in an advisory role.

“The agreement is a milestone for Notre Dame Catholic High School and Catholic secondary education in the diocese. The relationship between Notre Dame and Sacred Heart is deeply rooted in the faith, generosity and aspirations of the people of our diocese. The benefits that Sacred Heart University can bring to students and their families will be enormous,” Caggiano concluded.

“We want to ensure that Notre Dame Catholic High School is part of the community for many years to come,” Petillo added.


One comment

  1. In the middle to late 1950’s I attended Notre Dame High School in West Haven, and among other activities exercised some minimal musical talent by learning the clarinet as a Freshman and participated in the marching and concert bands until graduation in 1960. We visited the ND Bridgeport campus that was newly built and grandly appointed relative to our West Haven band room that was closeted in a former outbuilding. Later after college and begining my residence in metropolitan Bridgeport I was able to see and hear the variety of community responses to the handling of the major fund raising effort for the new Notre Dame of Bridgeport and it’s then re-purpose in a campus conversion to what is seen as Sacred Heart University today.

    According to the article above NDHS Bridgeport will continue its secondary school mission with educators and administrators as before and instead of a governing board, there will be an advisory which can be valuable to the school’s continuing success in the classroom and on the fields and rinks. The Diocese will receive an amount of around $15 Million dollars for the purpose of secondary education needs throughout the Diocese and the support of faculty retirement arrangements. Bishop Frank Caggiano is likely to appreciate the retreat from maintenance of land and buildings on behalf of Diocesan owned Notre Dame H.S. SHU will assume ultimate responsibility of the land and buildings. Finally the transition seals the long-term future of another local secondary school in proximity to a major university campus similar to Fairfield Preparatory School with Fairfield University and University of Bridgeport with the new Bassick High School rising and recently topping out.

    Secondary students can physically see and potentially benefit from the college aspirations held out to them when ‘secondary and beyond’ educational campuses are in close proximity. Time will tell.


Leave a Reply