An overview of the mission, honors and heritage of the high schools within the Diocese of Orange

By STAFF     8/9/2017

The Diocese of Orange offers a unique high school system that encompasses seven Catholic high schools throughout Orange County. There are three diocesan high schools managed by the Diocese. They include Mater Dei High School, Rosary Academy, and Santa Margarita Catholic High School. There are also four private high schools administered independently by groups or religious orders, which include Cornelia Connelly, Servite High School, JSerra High School and St. Michael’s Abbey Preparatory School. Each of these schools share a Catholic identity and have a reputation in excelling in academics, the arts and athletics. The high schools promote well-rounded lifestyles and students are encouraged to become involved in activities beyond academics. The unique qualities of each school aim to prepare high school students for success in college and life.  


Mater Dei 

Santa Ana 

Founded 1950 

Size: 2,182 students 

Honors: “Apple Distinguished School” since 2012 

Mission statement: Mater Dei High School, a co-educational college preparatory Diocesan Catholic high school, provides a holistic Catholic education, which serves a diverse community of students and recognizes each individual as a gift from God. Working with the parents/guardians, who are primary educators of their children, the school is dedicated to the development of the whole person: spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, social, moral, and creative. It is the goal of Mater Dei High School to graduate students who become leaders, committed to serving God and society with a profound sense of social justice, founded in love. 


Rosary Academy 


Founded 1965 

Size: 417 students (girls only) 

Honors: Award-winning Tri-School Theatre program with Connelly and Servite. The program has been honored every year with awards from the Educational Theatre Association, National Youth Theatre Organization, International Thespian Society and the Music & Arts Commendation for Youth Organization. 

Mission statement: Rosary Academy is a Catholic college-preparatory high school that educates and empowers young women to become integrated, holistic individuals who think critically, communicate effectively, and embody their religious faith as they serve the greater community. 


Santa Margarita Catholic High School 

Rancho Santa Margarita 

Founded 1987 

Size: 1,700 students 

Honors: Honored by U.S. Dept. of Education as a Blue Ribbon School in 2016. 

Mission statement: Santa Margarita Catholic High School seeks to bring the nurturing charism of Caritas Christi – the love of Christ – to our community of faith and learning. Centered in this charism, we work jointly with parents to provide an educational experience that incorporates:  

– Religious and spiritual formation  

– Intellectual and academic development  

– Physical and personal growth  

– Social awareness and moral development  

We seek to encourage in our students a positive sense of self-worth, self-discipline, personal responsibility, successful interpersonal relationships, commitment to Gospel values, and a desire to contribute positively to both the global community and the immediate society in which they live. 


Cornelia Connelly 


Founded 1961 

Size: 150 students (girls only) 

Honors: Awarded Catholic Relief Services’ Platinum Level Award, their highest designation, for their commitment to global outreach. 

Mission statement: Cornelia Connelly School inspires young women to achieve academic excellence and develop into confident, articulate young leaders who are guided by Catholic principles to serve our global society. A Roman Catholic, independent, college preparatory high school for girls, Cornelia Connelly School promotes academic excellence, faith development, global consciousness and moral and ethical behavior. 




Founded 1958 

Size: 967 students (boys only) 

Honors: Award-winning Tri-School Theatre program. Robotics team won 2016 Chairman’s Award to qualify for the World Championship 

Mission statement: Servite High School is a Catholic preparatory school for leadership, which accepts young men of all religious, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Based on the charism of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary and recognizing parents as primary educators, Servite High School strives to form faith-filled leaders by developing the whole student – body, intellect and will. Through a process of formation, integrating a college preparatory curriculum, liturgical and service experiences, and team based activities, the Servite student is exposed to the discovery of truth, which enlightens the proper use of the will. The goal of Servite High School is the formation of leaders through an organic set of elements with a single purpose: the gradual development of every capability of every student. 



San Juan Capistrano 

Founded 2003 

Size: 1,225 students 

Honors: Won 5 State Championships, 10 CIF Championships and 21 Trinity League titles since its inception in 2003. 

Mission statement: JSerra is an independent Roman Catholic high school that encourages students to pursue personal and professional excellence in life. Guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church, we work in partnership with committed parents and inspirational teachers to form the faith, intellect and character of our young men and women within a Christ-centered, sacrament-based learning environment. 


St. Michael’s Abbey Preparatory 


Founded 1961 

Size: 64 students (boys only) 

Honors: Awarded “School of Excellence” by the Catholic Education Honor Roll and Cardinal Newman Society 

Mission statement: St. Michael’s Preparatory School witnesses to the fullness of the Catholic faith and teaches in fidelity to a sound Catholic intellectual tradition. St. Michael’s is exclusively a boarding school for boys, grades nine through twelve, who are capable of benefiting from and contributing to its spiritual and academic community. The school provides the academic attainments necessary for acceptance to a four-year college or undergraduate program at a university in the U.S. St. Michael’s is served by Norbertine priests and seminarians and by a committed lay faculty and staff.