Fr. John Foley, SJ, one of the school’s founders and the first president of Cristo Rey began the evening with a prayer, followed by Senior Valerie Herrera who entertained the large crowd by singing “Le Violette”. Ms. Herrera recently sang for Pope Francis during a virtual Papal conversation held via satellite with the students of Cristo Rey in August of 2015. The experience ignited a desire within her to become a music therapist. “I am determined to pursue a career where I will help people while expressing my passion for music,” said Ms. Herrera. Ms. Herrera will begin her studies at Western Illinois University this fall.
Current students and alumni were on hand to share their experiences with attendees. “I want to be a Latino that can proudly say I graduated from College,” said Senior Abraham Rodriguez. “Going to college will allow me to further fulfill my dream, which is to have the education I need to have a respectable career, seek happiness, and make my family proud. . . .next year I plan to study engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a proud member of the class of 2020. . . . This would not be possible if it wasn’t for you. . .”
In addition to sharing direct insights from current students, Cristo Rey also honored two men who played significant roles in the school’s early years—Fr. Jim Gartland, SJ, and Mr. Jorge Ramirez. Fr. Jim Gartland, SJ, Rector of the Blessed Peter Faber Jesuit Community, Boston College, and one of Cristo Rey’s founders and past presidents was presented with the Rey of Hope Award. The award celebrates individuals who through commitment and hard work inspire hope in others.
The Crown of Cristo Rey Award was presented to Mr. Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) and Vice President of the national American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Mr. Ramirez previously served on Cristo Rey’s Board of Directors and was the founding Chair of the Leadership Advisory Council (LAC). The Crown of Cristo Rey is given to leaders who are committed to the goal of preparing children of immigrants to succeed in college and assume leadership roles in the civic, religious, business and cultural life of our cities and nation.
“The last two decades have seen this city write one of the most compelling stories in inner city education,” said Mr. Ortiz. “This is truly a Chicago story of imagination, grit, and the audacity to change the way we think about inner city education.”
Cristo Rey is grateful for each gift, each job, and each opportunity given on behalf of our students. Your support makes our students’ and families’ dreams come true! Thank you for making the difference in our students’ lives. Here’s to the next 20 years!
More photos and videos from the evening are available on our website.