Chandler - Seton Catholic High School (Tri-City/Seton Catholic Prep)
On September 13, 1954, Father Joseph Patterson completed his dream of a full Catholic educational system for the students of Chandler, Arizona as he opened Seton High School. Sister Mary Ronald Madden, Principal, and Sister Mary Peter Murphy, along with two diocesan priests, Father Patterson and Father Sierra, constituted the first faculty.
The school, consisting of three one-story brick buildings, was located near the railroad tracks two blocks from Saint Mary’s Church and the convent. The actual dedication of the completed Seton High School took place on October 2, 1955 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the school campus. One of the honored guests for this occasion was Sister Emily Miller, the founding principal and Sister Servant in the West, who traveled from Seton Hill to Tucson in 1933.
Other parishes joined Saint Mary to support the school and in 1961, it became a tri-parish high school. Throughout the history of Seton High School, there were a relatively high percentage of Mexican-American students enrolled.
On September 12, 1980, Seton High suffered the tragedy of an arson fire that damaged two of the buildings beyond repair. However, due to the determination of students and parents the school opened four days later using the old Saint Mary School building until portable classrooms were in place. Vandals struck again in July 1981 causing a drop in enrollment.
Finally, on November 5, 1982, the Diocese of Phoenix broke ground for a new Seton (Tri-City) Catholic High School within easy access to Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, and Guadalupe. The new structure opened in 1983.
Many Sisters of Charity served throughout the years at Seton High School. Two members of the Madden family played prominent roles in the history of the school. Sister Mary Ronald Madden served as first principal of the school. She returned to the school in 1993 when the school community celebrated 25 years of service by Sister Joan Madden.
In May 2009, the Seton High School community and alumni gathered for a farewell celebration for Sister Joan Madden who was returning to the Motherhouse in Greensburg, Pennsylvania after 41 years of service in the High School. A 2005 Alumnus of the school said, “She always provided a calming presence and a holy presence. She has always been a kind person who was willing to help students and give a reminder that Jesus should be the focus, and as long as you’re doing God’s will, you should be OK.” The school set up the Sisters of Charity Scholarship Fund in honor of Sister Joan.
The last Sister of Charity to serve at Seton High School was Sister Marie Teresa Rishel who returned to Greensburg in 2017. 32 Sisters of Charity were missioned to the high school in Chandler.