The Congregation of the Oratory was founded by Saint Philip Neri in the 16th century with the primary goal of educating both Catholics and non-Catholics in the faith. Many people have a limited and even superficial understanding of their faith – as they have not been fully catechized –sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Saint Philip used various means to teach the Catholic faith. He would have talks on sacraments, history, and theology, often interspersed with music and skits. Learning was never boring with Philip! He first began teaching in his room and later moved to the Oratory of the church, which is how the congregation received its name. When that prayer space proved too small, the main body of the church of St. Mary of the Valley was used. From its inception, the Oratory would focus on Education as an integral part of its mission.
The great Oxford don Saint John Henry Newman also saw the importance of education and founded a University in Dublin as well as a school to prepare boys for college in Birmingham, England. His desire was to have a well-educated laity so that they could fulfill their mission in helping the church proclaim the Good News of Jesus. The Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Rock Hill, South Carolina, continues this tradition along with Saint Anne School. The school was founded to teach Catholics and students of other faiths not just secular subjects but the importance of faith in their daily lives and future careers. Saint Anne was the first school in South Carolina to integrate, thus living the Gospel command of Love thy neighbor and the belief that All are created equal. Saint Anne School prepares children from K-3 through Grade 12 as whole persons, body and soul. Faith is an important and essential part of each school day.
Our students continue the vision of St. Philip Neri as well-educated and faithful disciples of Jesus, and faith plays a vital role in decision making in their daily lives. They continue the great commission which Jesus gave the Apostles: Go into the world proclaiming to all the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Father Joe Pearce