Thursday, June 30, 2005

Viva Cristo Rey . . . y Arrupe también.

In posts dating from November and March I made reference to Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, a Chicago Province school offering economically disadvantaged inner-city students the innovative combination of a traditional Jesuit classroom education and work study internships with some of Chicago's leading white-collar employers. The success of Cristo Rey in Chicago has inspired the establishment of similar Catholic high schools in cities across the United States, each operating on the same model as the original Cristo Rey. At this writing, the Cristo Rey Network includes eleven schools in cities as diverse as Austin, Texas; Lawrence, Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon and Waukegan, Illinois. Another Cristo Rey model school is set to open next year in Kansas City, and feasibility studies for ten more in various cities are in the works.

Denver is home to one of the newest Cristo Rey model schools, Arrupe Jesuit High School. Through the good offices of Arrupe's President Father Steve Planning and Missouri Province novice Mike Rozier, a number of us novices had a chance to tour the two year-old school earlier this week. As one might expect of such a young institution, Arrupe retains a very half-finished feel. Housed in an old parochial high school building, Arrupe is in the midst of a gradual physical transformation aimed at turning an antiquated 1950's structure into a state-of-the-art facility. Some parts of the building have already been effectively renewed, while others in the midst of renovation and yet others stand in need of attention. Though Arrupe receives financial support from the Missouri Province Jesuits, the corporate sponsors of the work study program and other generous donors, the school still possesses very modest means. The student body is phased to grow gradually to something like 350 or 400 students; each academic year Arrupe adds a new grade, with the expectation that full enrollment will be reached and the first class graduated in 2007. As a new institution, Arrupe faces both great challenges and great promise. Touring the school a couple days ago, I couldn't help but feel that, while the challenges are temporary, the promise is enduring. AMDG.


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