ATTLEBORO — Bishop Feehan High School is proud to announce that Sister Martha Mulligan, RSM, and Denise Peixoto will be honored with the its Patricia M. Harrington, RSM Hero of Catholic Education Award during the “Setting Our Hearts” Gala on Saturday, March 26 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
Sister Mulligan and Peixoto have combined to spend more than 70 years as teachers and administrators for Catholic schools that serve Attleboro-area students and families. The women will be the sixth and seventh recipients of the prestigious award and the first two to receive it in the same year.
“With their faith, dedication and leadership, Sister Martha Mulligan and Denise Peixoto have inspired Catholic education like few others in our region,” said Feehan president Tim Sullivan. “We’ve seen their impact on the thousands of students who have learned from them, and we’re fortunate that many have then joined us at Feehan for their high school years. So many families have been blessed by these women’s influence in their students’ lives.”
Sister Martha owns a remarkable legacy in Attleboro-area Catholic schools. Her distinguished career as a school leader covered 37 years, with two full generations of students witnessing her model of faith, wisdom and mercy.
Sister Martha spent 25 of those years leading Mercymount Country Day School (MCDS) in Cumberland, R.I. She transformed the MCD campus and community in that time through two capital campaigns and 50 percent growth in enrollment in the 1990s and 2000s. She also instituted a Christian Service program for students that continues today.
Before arriving at Mercymount, she was principal at St. John the Evangelist School in Attleboro for 12 years. There, she oversaw the introduction of a kindergarten program and the integration of computers into teaching and learning. She also helped found the widely popular St. John’s Invitational “March Madness” Basketball Tournament, which has continued annually for more than 40 years.
Sister Martha finished her career with a two-year stint as a Campus Ministry Associate at Bishop Feehan. She assisted with Liturgy and retreat planning, gave additional voice and presence to the Sisters’ legacy at Feehan, and instituted the popular Tea on Tuesdays program to honor the Mercy value of hospitality.
Now retired, she entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1957 and took final vows five years later. She worked as a teacher and assistant vocations director before her school administration career.
Denise Peixoto’s vocations as educator, wife and mother all carry strong links to the Diocese of Fall River. Her 30 years of professional service to Catholic education includes 20 years as principal at St. Mary-Sacred Heart School (SMSH) in North Attleborough and six more in her current role as one of the diocese’s assistant superintendents.
As assistant superintendent, Peixoto collaborates with administrators and faculty across 21 schools that educate more than 5,600 students each year. Her work has helped the diocese’s Catholic Schools Office move forward in areas such as curriculum, professional development and special education.
With Peixoto leading SMSH, the school saw enrollment increases and significant advances in programs and student services during her tenure. She began her SMSH career as a math teacher, and she stayed involved in designing math education during her time as an administrator.
Peixoto’s family shares her passion for Catholic schools. Her husband, Mike, is the buildings supervisor at Transfiguration of the Lord parish in North Attleborough. Denise’s daughter Jess, son Nick, and daughter-in-law Margaret are all Bishop Feehan faculty members who hold leadership positions in the school community.
The Patricia M. Harrington, RSM Hero of Catholic Education Award was established by Bishop Feehan High School in 2017 to honor a champion of Catholic education who makes significant contributions in service of Catholic schools and the Church. Sister Pat — who passed away in 2015 — was a legendary figure in the Feehan community: her example of faith, love and mercy set a standard at Feehan for nearly 40 years and will be remembered always. Sister Pat herself (posthumously) was the first recipient of the award.
“The Sister Pat award is Feehan’s highest honor,” Sullivan said. “Our honorees each year embody the ideals that have allowed Catholic schools to thrive for decades and decades and remind us of the impact one person, like Sister Pat, can make. Sister Martha and Denise certainly fit that tradition. Continuing to find and develop leaders with their devotion and joy will serve our Catholic schools well in the years to come.”
Peixoto and Sister Mulligan join Sister Pat; former Providence College and current St. John’s University President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.; former Feehan president Christopher E. Servant ’66; Fall River diocesan priest and BFHS trustee Father David Costa; and Salve Regina University chancellor M. Therese Antone, RSM as honorees. All honorees will be remembered at the Gala each year.
The Gala itself has become the central annual community event of the Feehan year, welcoming more than 600 people to celebrate the Feehan community and support the school.
“The Setting Our Hearts Gala is a one-night event that celebrates all things Feehan — our students, our community, our mission, and our vision for the future,” Feehan director of Advancement Dave Curtis said.
Besides the Hero of Catholic Education award, other highlights of the evening will include an elegant dinner, a limited live auction, a $10,000 cash raffle, a live band, dancing and a host of surprises.
For more information, to purchase tickets or tables, or for information on honoring our honorees, visit BishopFeehan.com/gala or contact Feehan director of Alumni and Volunteer Engagement Shawna Igoe at 508.226.7411 x 162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.