Founding member Sister Encarnacion Ortega came to the Clovis community in 1962, and along with six other nuns, opened a convent, and a school, with an education based on the beliefs of Mother Carmen Sallez, who was canonized October 21st by the pope.
She's now called Saint Carmen, and she used the Immaculate Conception as a model for education. Teaching morals and values to children, to keep them free from sin. And with the genuine love these nuns have for the children they teach, it makes for a rewarding educational experience.
Sister Encarnacion Ortega: "We have given the children our life, and we have dedicated all we have and can do for them, so to make the children better persons in the world."
Sister Encarnacion taught for eight years at OLPH, and dedicated six years as principal. She's now the Regional Superior, serving other schools in Madera, San Francisco, and Mexico. But when she began at OLPH, there was one building, seven nuns, and 80 students. Now, the school's capacity is over 300, but still as intimate as it was in 1962.
"A second family. They prepare the convent for us. We consider that our home, and that's the way people treated us all along the years. Part of the family."
The school has grown quite a bit since its early days. But due to a lack of vocations, there are now only three nuns at OLPH, Sister Isabel Lopez, Sister Monica Martinez, and Sister Pilar Dorregon. But one thing remains constant.
Sister Pilar Dorregon: "We love the children, and they love us."
Sister Isabel was recently named KSEE24 "Educator of the Week." she's been here since 1966. Visits with her family in Spain have been few, but this parish has become her second family.
Sister Isabel Lopez: "My vocation is teaching. Without a vocation, you cannot be teaching for so long, in my opinion."
The celebration is a special one for Sister Isabel. Just three years ago, she celebrated 50 years of religious life. And now with the 50th anniversary of the school, and convent, she calls home, she says the work of Christ has been magnified.
"The school has been very successful because you are teaching with unconditional love."
The school and church recently held it's 50th anniversary celebration, and will hold another celebration this weekend. This one for the canonization of Mother Carmen Sallez, the mother of the school's educational methods. Bishop Armando Ochoa will be there to celebrate. The mass begins Saturday October 27th at 5:00 p.m.