By The Tablet Staff
Cristo Rey Brooklyn H.S. — a Catholic high school in East Flatbush that serves students from low-income families — celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 23 with a dinner at Cipriani Wall Street, where the school honored Robert Catell, a former chairman and CEO of KeySpan who’s now chairman of Cristo Rey’s board of directors.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Elizabeth Goettl, president of the Cristo Rey Network, presented Catell with the Father John Foley Vision of Cristo Rey Award. The honor is named after Father John Foley, who was a co-founder of the first Cristo Rey school and who’s now chair emeritus and chief mission officer of the Cristo Rey Network.
The Cristo Rey Network, a not-for- profit organization that includes 35 high schools across the United States, was founded in 2000. It was modeled after Cristo Rey Jesuit H.S. in Chicago, which opened in 1996 to serve students of low- income families by offering a rigorous college-prep curriculum. The network was established to increase the number of such schools across the country.
Cristo Rey Brooklyn opened in 2008 in the former Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School in Bushwick with 43 freshmen. It moved to the former Catherine McAuley H.S. one year later and now has 320 students from Brooklyn, Queens and across New York City.
Many of the students come from families whose incomes are less than the typical tuition of a private high school in New York.
Families are expected to pay ten percent of Cristo Rey’s tuition. The students themselves contribute 50 percent of the tuition by working one day a week at entry-level jobs at companies throughout New York City.
The results are impressive. Every student in the last three graduating classes was accepted into a four-year college, and so far the 78 seniors from the Class of 2019 have received 433 acceptances from 121 colleges and over $21.6 million in merit scholarships and grants. Over the years, graduates have attended such elite colleges as Cornell, Duke, Georgetown and Princeton.
At Cipriani’s, the school also honored Peter Striano, owner of electrical contractor Unity International Group, with the Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Founders Award, named after the late Bishop Sullivan, who served on Cristo Rey Brooklyn’s board of directors during its startup years.
Four donors to the school were recognized with the Catherina McAuley Spirit of Mercy Award, including Ed Davey, Bill Jacobi, Nancy Shea and Brian Smith. The award honors individuals who exemplify the Sisters of Mercy’s mission to serve the poor, the ill and the uneducated.