Pierce Connelly was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome, Italy in 1845, but Cornelia soon recognized that she did not belong in Rome. Subsequently, she responded favorably to a request from an English bishop to come to England and there she began a congregation of women. This new congregation which became the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, provided education for the daughters of English Catholics and the growing number of Irish girls immigrating to England to work. Under Cornelia's leadership, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus prospered. At the time of her death in 1879, the Society numbered over one hundred women and its work had expanded to America.
Society of the Holy Child Jesus
The Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) is an international congregation of women within the Roman Catholic tradition, committed to providing service to others. The Society is comprised of three provinces: African, American, and European. Its international offices are in Rome, Italy; the offices of the American Province are in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, USA. Although Casa Cornelia Law Center is a legally independent corporation governed by its own Board of Directors, Casa Cornelia is sponsored by the American Province of the Society and recognized as one of its corporate works.
The Society was founded in England by Cornelia Connelly in 1846. The Law Center is named after this nineteenth century American woman whose courage, faith, and vision gave birth to the Society.
Prayer for Attorneys
Loving God, giver of Life and Law,
grant that I may minister to justice with compassion.
In this pursuit, enable me to strive,
as did your servant Thomas More,
to be able in argument and accurate in analysis,
strict in study and reasoned in conclusion.
Make me candid with clients
and honest with adversaries.
Keep me wary of cleverness
lest I win the point but lose myself.
Help me to treasure gentleness and simplicity.
Sit with me at my desk,
listen with me to each client's tale.
Read with me in the library, stand beside me in court.
Grant me courage, wisdom and counsel.
Keep me kind and cheerful.
Casa Cornelia Law Center is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm providing quality legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations. Casa Cornelia has a primary commitment to indigent persons within the immigrant community in Southern California. It seeks to educate others regarding the impact of immigration law and policy on the community and the public good. The mission and spirit of Casa Cornelia is rooted in the tradition of service of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and that of its founder, Cornelia Connelly. It encompasses the belief that God has chosen to need men and women in every age to reveal God's love and to make known the reality of God's saving presence through their service to others. Casa Cornelia seeks to foster a spirit of simplicity, honesty, kindness, and cheerfulness among colleagues and with those served. It has chosen Thomas More as the exemplar of these qualities to mark its practice of law.
Born in Philadelphia in 1809, Cornelia Augusta Peacock married the Reverend Mr. Pierce Connelly in 1831 and assumed the role of rector's wife at Trinity Episcopal Church in Natchez, Mississippi. They served this congregation until 1831 when both Cornelia and Pierce became Roman Catholics. Eventually, the Connelly's relocated to Grand Coteau, Louisiana where Pierce taught English in the Jesuit college and Cornelia taught art and music in a nearby academy for girls. During the course of their marriage, five children were born to Pierce and Cornelia; one died in infancy and another, tragically, at four years of age. Both Cornelia and Pierce were deeply religious; both nurtured their lives through prayer and reflection. Cornelia, however, was not prepared when, in October 1840, Pierce confided to Cornelia his decision to resume his ministry by becoming a Roman Catholic priest. The consequences of his decision profoundly changed Cornelia's life and that of the children.