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Br. Matt Wooters Makes Waves for Cristo Rey


In honor of the 25th anniversary of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Board of Directors member Br. Matt Wooters, SJ made a splash by swimming eight miles in Lake Michigan this month.

Br. Matt is a lifelong swimmer who believes that all of our gifts and talents come from God and can be used for the service of God's people - including insanely bold desires to swim extreme distances!  With a goal of raising $25,000 for the school, Wooters swam from Loyola University in Rogers Park to Navy Pier to model the trajectory of success for Cristo Rey students from higher education and onto successful careers downtown.

After some quiet time and prayers for good weather, Wooters set out in Lake Michigan before dawn under the watchful eye of his support crew onboard a boat that followed him on his journey. Br. Matt stopped every half hour or so, treading water as he refueled. After nearly five hours, under the midmorning sun, Br. Matt swam into Ohio Street Beach to a crowd of cheering Cristo Rey students, supporters, members of the media, and colleagues from the Midwest Jesuits.

Br. Matt reflected on his experience, “when I swim, I have a lot of uninterrupted time to pray, and something that I was thinking about was in St. John’s Gospel. A young boy offers his meager bread and fish to feed the huge crowd. It certainly isn’t enough to feed the hungry hordes but he offers it freely. Jesus blesses it and multiplies it. All are satisfied. And there are leftovers. Baskets full! (The swim) was never about me. I shared my own version of my sad stale fish and old bread and said, ‘Take, Lord, receive. I’m pretty good at swimming and it’s something I love, any chance you can use this?’ It was blessed, broken and multiplied. Hundreds of people gave to this fundraiser. Thousands upon thousands of dollars were raised. We all have something to give, I think we are being invited to give freely no matter how small. To take one more stroke. To go a little further. The joy is in the giving. The outcome is out of our hands. Thanks be to God. AMDG. ¡Viva Cristo Rey del Universo!”

Cristo Rey President Antonio Ortiz reflected, “we are so lucky to have Br. Matt on Cristo Rey’s Board of Directors. Like our founders in 1996, Br. Matt had a bold idea to make a difference. This swim is a deeply personal way for Br. Matt to help us celebrate 25 years of Cristo Rey and raise new awareness for our school and our students. We are beyond grateful for his enthusiasm and commitment.”

Br. Matt’s event exceeded his goal and raised more than $29,000 in support of Cristo Rey and its students! Gifts can still be made at www.cristorey.net/makingwaves.

Read more in Chicago Catholic and watch Br. Matt’s interview with Ray Cortopassi on WGN.