The word “mission” has a special resonance in the history of Notre Dame High School. The school is located in the San Fernando Valley, named for the Mission of San Fernando established by the Spanish Franciscans in the eighteenth century. The architectural design of Notre Dame reflects this mission heritage, most notably in the arches which run along the Riverside Building. It was also a mission that sent Holy Cross tradition to the United States from France to found the University of Notre Dame, and, from there, to California to establish Notre Dame High School.
The French Revolution, despite its promises of liberty, equality, and fraternity, became a reign of terror noted for its assault on Catholicism. After the restoration of the Church, a need emerged for religious who would educate and evangelize the French. This period witnessed the birth of the Brothers of St. Joseph, founded by Fr. Jacques Dujarie in Ruille, France in 1820. After teaching in parish schools for 15 years, the Brothers merged with a small group of parish priests under the leadership of Blessed Basil Moreau in Sainte Croix, a suburb of Le Mans. Fr. Moreau later added a group of Sisters, and his three-part foundation became known as the Congregation of Holy Cross. It is in this religious order that the foundation of Notre Dame lies.