August President’s Pen with Preston Kendall

Aug 23, 2022 | President’s Pen

Here. We. Go! The energy of the first day of school at CRSM defies description. There are only two days per year when we hold back students from their workday for a late start, bringing together the entire student body – the first day of school and our Senior Sendoff ceremony at the end of the year. Having 406 students plus 77 faculty and staff in the cafeteria eager to start the year is a joy to behold. At 106, this year’s freshmen class is one of the largest in school history.

As part of the assembly, all the adults in the building introduce themselves to the students. CRSM has attracted one of the finest teams of professionals I have ever known. It is truly inspiring to see each of them, one after another, address the students – you forget just how many exceptional educators are in our midst at CRSM. A news item the other day estimated that more than 282,000 teachers have left the profession since the beginning of the pandemic. CRSM is counting its blessings. All but three staff members are returning from last year – a remarkable sign of stability in a highly tumultuous time for education in general – and perhaps, a nod to the culture of both professionalism and care fostered at CRSM.

It is a grace being able to work with a group of people who gather together because of a shared belief in their students’ abilities. They believe their students have God-given talents that, when developed, can make the world a better place. They work at CRSM because they know that the economics of Waukegan and North Chicago, things completely out of the control of our students and families, are hindering the development of those talents. And a loss of those talents is a loss for our entire society.

Borrowing from a sermon a Jesuit friend of mine gave, I told the students on the first day of school that we hoped their time at CRSM would allow them to know three things: 1) that God loves them and God can be found in all things, especially in other people; 2) that God only wants us to return His love and the way we love God is by loving one another, by being “persons for others”; and 3) that we have a responsibility to develop our gifts and talents by committing to doing the best we can at what we undertake, but also to undertake things which help others and improve lives. In other words, to do well and to do good. The people working at CRSM know these things for themselves and they model them for the students in their daily interactions.

At the start of our faculty Professional Development programming last week and again on the first day with the students we began with a prayer called the Cristo Rey Credo. Credo comes straight from the Latin word, meaning “I believe.” My friend and colleague Fr. John Foley who started the Cristo Rey movement says he did not write the prayer as much as he compiled it from many other prayers. Nonetheless, it captures the spirit of why we work at CRSM and what we hope for. I cannot think of a better way to start the year than by stating what we truly believe. Here it is…

Cristo Rey Credo

We all have to be about changing the way things are. Our mission is to make the Kingdom of God concrete in the here and now, in other words, not merely to make things slightly better but to effect transformational change at every level. At Cristo Rey, no one has ever taught that we should be content with doing something small. Our world doesn’t need a touch-up; it needs total renewal!

We believe that God’s grace leads us not only to holiness, but also to greater intelligence, creativity, and resourcefulness in making the Kingdom come. And through the Spirit who lives in each one of us, we should expect, if we follow Jesus, to accomplish absolutely novel and startling things. The God we have studied in the Bible is one of boundless creativity, who wishes to communicate this same grace to each one of us. Made in His image, we are called to be co-creators of a totally new world. May we have faith in a dream so ambitious as to border on the delusional with a healthy disregard for conventional thinking. May our hope be so outrageously bold that we are afraid people will laugh at us if they knew what we hoped for! May our love lead us to fly in the face of human logic and make us instruments in helping our King establish His reign, to transform all things, to bring true and lasting happiness to our community and the\ world. The plan our King always said he would set in motion is indeed moving forward in the Cristo Rey Network. This movement is the work of our King, taking away the sins of frustrated potential, lack of opportunity, and paralyzing poverty. Our world is awash in grace. Grace makes us excited about the future. The Kingdom is coming and we are an essential part of that dream!

¡Viva Cristo Rey!