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History & Tradition

Shanahan Students
St. Agnes Parish High School

1909 - 1956

​Bishop Shanahan's rich legacy can be traced to the Christian values and academic excellence first nurtured in St. Agnes Parish High School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. ​Saint Agnes High School was established in 1909 through the efforts of Monsignor Henry C. Schuyler. From 1909 until 1956, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (I.H.M.) administered and staffed the high school until it became necessary to secure a larger property to accommodate the growing Catholic enrollment.


The Original Bishop Shanahan High School in West Chester, PA

1956 - 1996

​A new piece of land for the high school, at Gay and Everhart Streets, was donated by the West Chester Council of the Knights of Columbus. With the approval of His Eminence, John Cardinal O'Hara, C.S.C., ground was broken in the Fall of 1956. ​Bishop Shanahan High School opened on September 4, 1957 and John Cardinal O'Hara dedicated the school five days later on September 9th. The school is named for Bishop John W. Shanahan, the former pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Philadelphia. Bishop Shanahan also served as the first Superintendent of Schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia until his appointment as Bishop of the Harrisburg Diocese in 1889. The founding principal was Reverend J. Daniel Kehoe, who served from 1957 to 1962.


Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, PA

1996 - 1998

The continuing growth of the Catholic community in Chester County called for new and expanded facilities. His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Bevilaqua presided at the groundbreaking ceremony on October 27, 1996. The 246,000 square foot educational facility opened in Downingtown in September 1998. The facility includes a 1,200-seat auditorium, a spacious library, and state-of-the-art computer and science labs. It also comprises modern athletic facilities including a 1,000-seat gymnasium with auxiliary gym, a weight room, a 400-meter track, baseball and softball fields, and several all-purpose fields suited for football, soccer, rugby, field hockey, lacrosse, and more.

Bishop Shanahan Football Field

2005 - 2015

​In 2005, a beautiful football stadium with capacity for 2000 fans was added to the Shanahan campus to the delight of the school community. In 2015, this stadium was updated through a $2 million project which added a multi-purpose synthetic turf field, stadium lighting and a resurfaced track. The surrounding 80 acres of rich Chester County land provide a beautiful, natural setting for a peaceful, rich and safe learning environment.

Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, PA

Present Day

​Since the founding of Bishop Shanahan High School, the leadership has boldly met changes in demographics and challenges from society. Striving to live as Jesus lived, the faculty and staff of Bishop Shanahan High School are committed to ethical and moral education which reaches beyond the walls of the classroom. The whole school community is united by the conviction that all members of the Bishop Shanahan community are "People of God; People for Others." Recognizing parents as the primary educators, Bishop Shanahan enters into an educational partnership with the parents and guardians of our students to ensure the most meaningful Catholic education possible.

Bishop Shanahan Graduates in Cap and Gown

Bishop Shanahan High School provides an unequaled educational setting where the focus is on each student finding and developing his or her truest gifts and talents. To this end, Bishop Shanahan High School provides a wide variety of educational, co-curricular and extra-curricular experiences to help all students develop their potential as persons made in the image and likeness of God. As a result, 100% of our graduates pursue higher education at a college or university. A significant number achieve National Honor Society membership and are recognized by the National Merit Foundation. Some students also have the opportunity to participate in the Diocesan Scholar Program at a local Catholic college. A broad spectrum of students is welcome at Bishop Shanahan. Some participate in extensive and successful Advanced Placement Program, others receive learning support through Intermediate Unit assistance, and all students receive individual student placement, rostering and guidance support.