Shortly after the Civil War, Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid asked the Sisters of Saint Joseph to help establish a system of parochial schools in the newly formed Rochester Diocese. The congregation responded by opening Nazareth Academy in 1871 and Nazareth Hall in 1884, both named for the town where Jesus spent his youth.
The histories of the Nazareth Schools clearly demonstrate the Sisters of Saint Joseph’s unwavering commitment to providing quality Catholic education to all children regardless of faith heritage, ethnicity, or financial circumstances. For nearly 140 years — through times of prosperity and depression, peacetime and world wars — Nazareth has responded to the times.
With a deep appreciation for the past, the Sisters of Saint Joseph continue to look to the future. In 2010, enrollment at the high school level dictated a new direction and the Sisters once again responded to the challenge. Nazareth Academy closed due to lower enrollment, and Nazareth Hall relocated to the Nazareth Academy campus on Lake Avenue and was renamed Nazareth Elementary. At the same time, Nazareth and the Sisters of St. Joseph began a collaboration with its neighboring school, The Aquinas Institute.
In 2015, the Sisters of St. Joseph sold the Academy campus to Education Success Network. ESN’s goal was to lease to charter schools. In 2017, another chapter began when Nazareth Elementary moved to the former Sacred Heart Cathedral School on Flower City Park and started leasing the building from Sacred Heart Parish.
Nazareth Elementary continues to be a presence of hope in the city and the Maplewood neighborhood, while also serving children from the city and several surrounding districts. The spirit of Nazareth lives on!