Catholic Jesuit Identity
|St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits
“What does it mean that Christ the King College Prep is a Catholic Jesuit school?” is a natural question to ask given that this is the first high school of its kind to open on Chicago’s west side.
In fact, Christ the King was founded by the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) to bring Catholic Jesuit education to families from the Austin and other Chicago West side communities who would not otherwise have access to a private high school.
The Jesuits are an order of Catholic brothers and priests who have been international educators for over 450 years. They have been engaged in education in Chicago since 1869. Currently, the Jesuits sponsor several successful educational institutions in the Chicago area: Chicago Jesuit Academy, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Loyola Academy, St. Ignatius College Prep and Loyola University. Jesuits operate 50 high schools and 28 colleges and universities in the U.S. with a combined enrollment of 200,000 students. Over 1,000,000 students have graduated from Jesuit high schools in the U.S. Of those, well over 95% have graduated from college.
At the heart of Jesuit education is the spirituality and vision of St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Jesuits. Christ the King embraces the following characteristics of Ignatian spirituality:
- Christ-Centered: In the pattern of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, Christ the King encourages its students to grow more deeply in their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, so that they will choose to follow Him more closely—whether in the classroom or workplace, on the athletic field, in artistic endeavors, or through worship and prayer.
- Leadership in Service: Christ the King has the same purpose and goal that Ignatius Loyola had when he founded the Society of Jesus: to help souls. Christ the King will certainly help the souls of its students as they experience the liberating opportunity of a college preparatory education—an opportunity that for too long has been denied to far too many African American youth on the West Side of Chicago. But Christ the King will also help its students become leaders who are “men and women for others,” committed to serving those most in need of their gifts, talents and energies; devoting a special concern to serve their families and the communities and neighborhoods of the West Side of Chicago.
- Reflection: Christ the King helps students become aware of God’s presence especially in the classroom; but also in the exercise of all their other gifts of mind, body and soul; in the rich values of their African American culture; and in all their daily experiences, thus developing their reflective facility and a discerning habit of finding God in all things.
- Care: Christ the King is a community committed to cura personalis, in which the “care of the whole person”—mind, body and soul—guides our way of proceeding in all areas.
- Justice: Christ the King seeks to discover how it can best promote a faith that does justice, within the lives of its students, the communities of Chicago’s West Side, and wherever else its alumni/ae will live and work.
Christ the King embodies its Catholic Jesuit spirituality and vision by providing:
- Opportunities for regular community worship and celebration of the sacraments
- A Christian service program
- A campus ministry program that includes regular retreats and opportunities for individual and group spiritual development and reflection
- A rigorous curriculum of Catholic theology
- An integration of faith and justice throughout the curriculum and through interdisciplinary pursuits
- The example of faith, discipleship, service and commitment to justice offered by faculty and school leadership.
For more information on the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), you may visit their website at www.jesuits-chi.org
For more information on the Jesuit Secondary Education Association, you may visit their website at www.jsea.org.