Ninety-two years ago, an all-girls high school opened in the convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order St. Francis on Granger Road in Garfield Heights.
Originally called St. Joseph Academy, the name was changed in 1939 to Marymount High School in order to avoid confusion with the all-girls St. Joseph Academy on Cleveland’s West Side. In September 1973, the school was renamed Trinity High School and it became coed. The school, which remains in the building constructed in 1957 – and since enlarged – has an enrollment of about 360 and has experienced growth for the past few years.
Sister Shawn Lee, Trinity president, provided Bishop Nelson Perez with a capsulized version of the school’s history during his visit on Oct. 2. She explained how the Franciscan values of truth, brotherhood and fidelity are incorporated into the school.
“Adaptation and change are always part of the Trinity mission,” she said, explaining that Trinity continues to evolve as it seeks to respond to the needs of the time. “We are and seek always to be Franciscan at heart – simple and faithful to the call of God,” she added.
As the bishop entered the gym where he was to celebrate Mass, he was greeted by students singing enthusiastically. The liturgy was in honor of the feast of St. Francis, which is observed on Oct. 4. A statue of St. Francis of Assisi was on the stage near the altar.
As he usually does, Bishop Perez asked students to tell him what made Trinity High School special. The students responded with family, love for each other, internships, faith in God, retreats, prayer and praise, the teachers, diversity, small class size, being able to attend Mass with the entire school, memories of their teachers and classmates, the nuns, elective classes like graphic design and cooking and support for one another.
“Those are wonderful values to learn,” the bishop told the students.
He also shared a story with them of a time he was visiting Assisi, Italy, where St. Francis lived. He said the town becomes the retreat center. He was dressed casually in jeans and sneakers and visited the church where the cross of San Damiano hung. Visitors were not supposed to take pictures of the cross — which dates to about 1100 – but he did. Bishop Perez said he was scolded by a nun in the church.
“The next day, I was dressed as a bishop and celebrated Mass. She came up to me and said, ‘You’re a bishop?’”
He said his visit to Assisi, where he was able to see where St. Francis walked and lived, left a lasting impression. He said the beauty of the area helped him understand how St. Francis could love nature and animals so much.
He explained that St. Francis was praying before the cross of San Damiano when he first received a call from Jesus to build a church, so he rebuilt an old, dilapidated chapel that was located nearby. Later, he received another message about rebuilding the church and realized he was being called to multiply his gifts and to spread the Gospel.
“Here you have lots of gifts – friendship, faith and more. But you are to share them with the outside world. Be a ray of light for the world. That which you receive as a gift, you are to give back as a gift,” he told the students, as he wished them a happy St. Francis Day.
After Mass, the bishop greeted students and took a brief tour of the school before enjoying lunch with faculty and staff members.