Parish roundup: Catholic schools' stories of inclusiveness, tragedy, hope

Immaculata Classical Academy in Louisville, Kentucky, embraces student diversity. About 15-20 percent of its students have special needs. (Courtesy of Catholic News Agency)

by Dan Morris-Young

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Immaculata Classical Academy in Louisville, Kentucky, stresses "education of the heart" and its "philosophy of inclusion" embraces a wide range of students, including those with special needs, "Down Syndrome in particular." About 15-20 percent of the student population has special needs. 

Heart-wrenching tragedy struck Nashville's St. Pius X Classical Academy community last month as sisters Samma'Rie Daniel, 8, and Sa'Maii Daniel, 5, were victims of fatal gun violence. Their mother was critically injured, but will survive, reported the Tennessee Register

Resurrection Parish in the Boyle Heights area of East Los Angeles was significantly damaged by an arson fire Jan. 25. About 60 firefighters responded, limiting fire damage and keeping flames from the main sanctuary. A 25-year-old man has been arrested and might have links to a series of arsons and vandalism of houses of worship in Southern California. Dolores Mission Parish, also in low-income Boyle Heights, donated funds from a Jan. 28 Catholic Schools Week fundraising meal to Resurrection Parish.

Speaking of Catholic Schools, the Catholic Cristo Rey Network of schools, which serves students of low-income families, is on pace to have 50 campuses active across the U.S. within a decade. According to Cristo Rey Network's website, currently 11,521 students across 21 states and the District of Columbia populate the network of 32 college preparatory schools. Megan Sweas, NCR contributor, wrote a book on the successes and challenges of the Jesuit-backed Cristo Rey schools, Putting Education to Work: How Cristo Rey High Schools are Transforming Urban Education.

At the core of the Cristo Rey program is facilitating students' ability to pay for most of their education by working in school-sponsored corporate internships that also provide valuable work experience.

Catholic Extension acknowledged the impact of the Cristo Rey effort in presenting its 2017 Spirit of St. Francis Award to Jesuit Fr. Joseph Parkes, president of Cristo Rey New York High School.

Chicago-based Catholic Extension is also working to keep Catholic education accessible to low-income mission communities in the U.S. by teaming with Los Angeles' Loyola Marymount University Center for Catholic Education to develop the Catholic School Leadership Development Initiative. The initiative's goal is "to develop a pipeline of educated Catholic school leaders in dioceses with limited resources and staff," reports Catholic News Service.

Members of the 2017 graduating class of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Washington, D.C., celebrate. (Photo courtesy of Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School)

In case you missed it, Philadelphia's St. John's Hospice is the recipient of $100 from Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley as a result of a Super Bowl wager between the cardinal and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. As you and the world knows, Philly's Eagles won their first National Football League title on Feb. 4 by defeating New England's (and O'Malley's) Patriots 41-33. If O'Malley had won, so would have Catholic Charities of Boston. Both prelates are Capuchin Franciscans.

For the record, two Ukrainian rite prelates also bet one another on the Super Bowl: Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia, metropolitan of U.S. Ukrainian Catholics, rooted for the Eagles; Bishop Paul Chomnycky of Stamford, Connecticut, cheered on the Patriots. The wager involved food. 

Dan Morris-Young is NCR's West Coast correspondent. His email is]

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