Mission & History

Our Mission

The Mission of Independence Mission Schools is to provide a transformative Catholic education that develops students intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually and that provides children of all faiths across the City of Philadelphia with the opportunity to learn in an academically rigorous environment and to grow in a culture of love, setting them on the path to a promising future.

Our Vision

Our Vision is that IMS students will leave our school community emotionally and spiritually formed by our Catholic example, performing at or above grade level, and enrolled in an academically rigorous high school program ready to achieve their dreams. We strive to become a top-tier academic destination for all children in Philadelphia.

St. Helena-Incarnation Catholic School is living out the IMS mission by providing a faith-based education that empowers students to be high school, college and career ready, while instilling the moral foundation they need to become honorable and active community members.

Our Beliefs


The cornerstone of a Catholic education is a culture of love that values and embraces the unique gifts of every child and that treats all people with dignity.

High Expectations for All

We assume the best of our students; holding them to high expectations for academic achievement, behavior, and personal growth and guiding their development into respectful, confident adults.

Diversity & Inclusion

It is possible to build unity in diversity, for differences neither restrain nor divide us, but allow us to look more deeply at  ourselves and at our world.

God-given Potential

Our students come to us full of promise and we are charged with
helping them achieve their potential, so that they leave IMS having choices in the pursuit of college and career, based on confidence in their own intellectual, emotional, and spiritual

Strength in Community

Community is at the heart of our work. Our existence makes our
communities stronger, the community makes our schools stronger, and we are preparing students to be contributing members of their communities.

Our History

  • Opened in 1927, St. Helena School was staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
  • Incarnation of Our Lord School opened in 1913, staffed by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • In 2012, the parish schools merged to form St. Helena-Incarnation.
  • In 2013, St. Helena-Incarnation joined IMS, an independent, nonprofit network of Catholic schools.

Saint Helena Parish

St. Helena ChurchSt. Helena parish is located at the corner of 5th St. and Godfrey Ave. In 1924, the parish was born under the founding pastor Father James F. McCloy. In 1927, St. Helena School, administered and staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph, opened its doors to welcome 438 students. For the past 85 years, the mission begun by father McCloy, of bringing Catholic education to the culturally diverse Olney community, has flourished under the leadership of each succeeding pastor.

Incarnation of Our Lord Parish

InkyDiag_WEBIn 1900, Incarnation of Our Lord Parish was born with Father Patrick J. Fogarty as its first Pastor. Father Fogarty dreamed of starting a parish school where children in the neighborhood could learn about Christ and receive a quality education at the same time. Though Father Fogarty was responsible for the initial plans, his successor, Father Michael Brady, was Pastor when Incarnation School opened in 1913. The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, came to staff the school and continued their loving ministry at Incarnation School, along with many devoted lay teachers for 99 years.

St. Helena-Incarnation Core Values

  • We believe that St. Helena-Incarnation Catholic School is a Community of Faith whose primary mission is to transmit the Gospel message, the teachings of the Catholic Church and instill a sense of service in our students.
  • We believe in providing our students and staff with a safe, orderly and culturally responsive environment where all can thrive and succeed.
  • We believe that the religious nature and purpose of our school must be reflected through academic programs that strive for excellence and balance in students’ intellectual, social, personal, and physical growth. We believe our goal is best achieved in an atmosphere that is faith-filled, aesthetic, orderly, permeated with Christian values, and enhanced by the living witness we provide as Catholic educators and role models.
  • We believe that we are responsible to be just, fair, kind and compassionate in our relations with students while maintaining a well-ordered, disciplined atmosphere, tempered with understanding and permeated with Gospel Love.
  • We are committed to grow as a Community of Faith and desire to incorporate parents, students and all co-workers into an open, cooperative and mutually supportive faith community.
  • We believe that the needs of our students are the primary consideration in determining the methods and materials of instruction that will enable our students to achieve their potential of becoming lifelong learners.