Mission and History

Our Mission

Pope Francis Preparatory School is a Catholic co-educational, college-preparatory school which instills Gospel values and fosters academic excellence in a diverse community of learners. Our mission is to challenge students to grow spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically to become critical thinkers and faith-based leaders who embody justice, peace, service, and mercy in the global community.

Building on a Deep Legacy of Excellence


In the spring of 2015, then Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski announced that Cathedral High School and Holyoke Catholic High School would merge into a new regional Catholic school beginning in 2016. He accepted a recommendation of the joint Cathedral and Holyoke Catholic high schools’ Student Advisory Committee to call the new regional Catholic high school Pope Francis in honor of the pope who was reigning at that time.


In the fall of 2016, students converged under the banner of Pope Francis High School at the former location of Holyoke Catholic in Chicopee while a new facility was constructed at the site of the former Cathedral on Wendover Road in Springfield. In anticipation of the new building opening in 2018, the name of the school was changed to Pope Francis Preparatory School to better reflect the full mission of the school. 


Building on our history’s cornerstones, Pope Francis Preparatory School offers its students the best of what its legacy schools had to offer. Students carry on the values and many traditions of both Cathedral and Holyoke Catholic, while forging a new and reimagined future for secondary Catholic education in the Diocese of Springfield. Pope Francis Preparatory School provides a beautiful, state-of-the-art, safe environment for students to worship, learn, and succeed for generations to come.


Cathedral High School History

Since the first graduating class in 1884, more than 34,500 students have received a Cathedral High School education. It all started with a small group of students who, on September 3, 1883, marched up the winding stairs of Springfield’s St. Michael’s Cathedral and into two storerooms that had been converted into classrooms. 


The increasing number of Catholic immigrants living in the Springfield area had prompted then Bishop Patrick T. O’Reilly to seek a teaching staff for a high school. Ten members of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Flushing, New York were sent in response to the bishop’s request. Nellie McQuade and Margaret Cruse hold the distinction of being the first to graduate from Cathedral in 1885. In the early twentieth century, students entering Cathedral studied Church and doctrine, Latin, English, algebra and history. Greek and French were added in the sophomore year, and the sciences offered in this classical tract were physics and chemistry.


Cathedral also offered a series of commercial classes that included writing, spelling, shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping. Upon the death of Bishop O’Reilly, his successor, Thomas Beaven, had the foresight to convert the old convent on Elliot Street into the new home of Cathedral High School.


In the 1950s, the growing high school-age population in the greater Springfield area brought about the necessity of a larger building. Under the direction of then Bishop Christopher Weldon, the diocese purchased the 30-acre Simon Kervick farm at Wendover and Surrey Roads. Ground was broken for the school on March 17, 1958, and the “new” Cathedral opened its doors on September 9th, 1959 and remained at that location until a category EF-3 tornado damaged the building on the afternoon of June 1, 2011. 


The tornado, which carved a 39-mile path through western Massachusetts, rendered the school unusable. That fall, students were moved to the former Memorial School in Wilbraham, where they remained for five years until the merger with Holyoke Catholic.

Holyoke Catholic High School History

In the early part of the 20th century many Roman Catholic churches started schools to educate children of their parish. Though the schools were successful, they were small and it was difficult for small parish high schools to offer competitive athletic programs. Monsignor Timothy J. Leary, then headmaster and athletic director at St. Jerome High School in Holyoke, had the idea to bring parish teams together to play as one so they could compete against larger high schools. In the fall of 1947, the parish high schools of Holy Rosary, Sacred Heart, and St. Jerome played sports for the first time under the banner of Holyoke Catholic. The athletic partnership proved successful and in 1963 the Diocese of Springfield officially merged the three parish high schools to form Holyoke Catholic High School. Later, the high school at Precious Blood Parish also joined Holyoke Catholic. Although composed of students from the four founding schools, Holyoke Catholic also served a number of students from throughout western Massachusetts and the school grew into a larger regional high school.


At first, the school was located in the building at St. Jerome Parish in Holyoke. Soon, however, the school found the need to use other buildings in the neighboring area. Temporary trailers were also brought in to accommodate the rise in student population. After several decades of use, the buildings’ condition deteriorated, and the Holyoke location was forced to close. During the summer of 2002, the school moved to the site of the former St. Hyacinth Seminary in Granby, where it operated for six years. The campus, though large, was isolated, and the search for a more suitable permanent home continued. In 2008, the Assumption Parish School property near Elms College on Springfield Street in Chicopee was selected. The existing Assumption Elementary School was completely renovated and a new wing was added. Holyoke Catholic opened in that location in September 2008.