Attentive Consideration of Poverty that Builds Peace

by Sister Julie Ann on January 8, 2009

095.JPGWhen walking in San Miguel High School, Tucson, AZ, one is not necessarily whacked by a special solicitude to poverty. Rather, one is immediately overwhelmed by the peace and friendliness of students, faculty and administration.  Here are young people, some former students of San Xavier Mission School and Santa Cruz School of which the Franciscan Sisters of Christian serve on the faculties and in the parishes, who are enthusiastic and open to sharing their thoughts and dreams.

098.JPGIn fact, it is only after delving into the mission of this secondary Catholic institution and the order of a typical day that one feels like Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 World Day of Peace Message on “fighting poverty to build peace” finds a home here.  

San Miguel High School is a “Cristo Rey model” school, using a corporate internship program developed by the Cristo Rey Network, which now consists of 19 high schools across the nation, all of which serve families of low-to-moderate assets. All students in all grades work one day a week at intern-level jobs in local corporations, companies, and nonprofit groups, thus earning tuition support and becoming acquainted with the wider professional and educational community in their area.

San Miguel High School opened in 2004 in order to create a learning community where students from families of limited financial means have the opportunity to develop to their full potential. San Miguel is located in Tucson’s economically depressed south side where 50% of adult residents do not have a high school education and 42% of San Miguel’s neighbors earn less than $25,000 per year.

102.JPGIf this doesn’t sound like the present and past Holy Fathers’ January 1, 2009 words were taken seriously when they “warned of the need to ‘abandon a mentality in which the poor- as individual and as peoples-are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced’. The poor ask for the right to share in enjoying material goods and to make good capacity for work, thus creating a world that is just and prosperous for all.”

104.JPGThe Catholic LaSallian Learning Community lives an evident respect for the transcendent dignity of the human person. Peace is found here. Students are professionally groomed and learn in an already college campus style setting. Goodness is in abundance in the heart of South Tucson.

See Sister Kay Klackner, OSF article on the Catholic Social Principles: Rights, Responsibilities and Dignity of Work. How is work a participation in the action of creation?

9 thoughts on “Attentive Consideration of Poverty that Builds Peace”

  1. Sister Marie Bernadette says:

    Consideration of Poverty that leads to Peace! Three cheers for the faculty and staff in Cristo Rey! We Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity also work in Kekaha,Hawaii. There are only two Catholic Schools left on this island. St. Catherine’s is taught by all lay staff and we at St. Theresa’s have four Sisters in school. A Catholic high school is so badly needed on this island. If parents desire a Catholic education for their children, the students need to go to Honolulu. Expense puts an end to that desire very quickly. A Catholic high school was attempted in past years with Sisters from the Philippines. That was not a fruitful adventure. What a blessing Cristo Rey would be for our parents and students. Please consider it,Jesuits in the Cristo Rey association. It would be a marvelous blessing to our island and to you. This is the Garden Island! Consider the benefits!

  2. Sister Mary Ann and I enjoyed our visit at San Miguel High School. We were impressed with everyone we met-students, faculty and administration. Everyone was not only friendly and hospitable, but breathed the mission of the school. As students spoke about their working lives, there was pride and confidence in their voices. One felt a strong spirit of unity among all present built on deep respect for each other.

  3. Sister Carla Riach says:

    I am ministering at San Xavier Mission here in Tucson. San Miguel High School has opened a whole new world of opportunities for our graduates. We are very proud of the students and applaud all the local businesses who make this school possible.

    June 2008 was the first graduating class and a young woman from San Xavier was in that class. I was amazed to hear at their graduation ceremony that every student was accepted into College and was going to continue their education.

    I pray for many young men to join the Christian Brothers in this wonderful ministry of education.

  4. Sister Marie Bernadette says:

    I think that I made a mistake. Is Cristo Rey a Christain Brothers venture? If so, I repeat the need for a Catholic high school on our island. Our school at St. Theresa’s is in a depressed area. Life has been hard here ever since the sugar mill closed years ago. There is a definite need for Cristo Rey to join us in education. Welcome or Aloha!!

  5. When I visited San Miguel School last year I,too, felt the warmth, the confidence, and the friendliness of the students, staff and faculty.

    After visiting San Miguel and teaching with the Christian Brothers for 14 years at Roncalli High School, Manitowoc, WI, I can attest to their fine educational committment and teaching skills. It was a joy to work with them.

    Thank you for sharing the San Miguel mission. The live link provided above was a quick way to see their web page and experience their mission.

  6. My guess is that the Christian Brothers follow the rule of Augustine. This quote from one of the saint’s sermons seems to sum up the WORK of the order:

    ‘The turbulent have to be corrected, the faint-hearted cheered up, the weak supported; the Gospel’s opponents need to be refuted, its insidious enemies guarded against; the unlearned need to be taught, the indolent stirred up, the argumentative checked; the proud must be put in their place, the desperate set on their feet, those engaged in quarrels reconciled; the needy have to be helped, the oppressed to be liberated, the good to be encouraged, the bad to be tolerated; all must be loved.’

    The Lord bless the WORK of the Brothers!

  7. Upon returning from AZ (it was 72 degrees there yesterday when I boarded the plane) and having some time to ponder the experience Sister Julie Ann and I had at San Miguel High School, I am filled with hope!

    To meet so many students who are so committed to learning, working, and living their faith inspires me to try to promote even more the value of a Catholic education, whether it be in a Catholic school or a Catholic religious education setting.


    My prayers are with all the students, teachers, Christian Brothers, staff, and parents of San Miguel High School; thank you for being a LIGHT for our world!

  8. Sister Julie Ann’s quote from Augustine (Jan. 13th entry) was the topic of a discussion Sr. Pam and I had last week. Pope Benedict uses it in his encyclical on Hope. We thought is was just an excellent summary of ministry. When we do all these actions in the name of Jesus and the Church we are doing very “hands on” ministry. Isn’t it marvelous that Augustine knew all those so long ago?

  9. I was reminded again of the balance of work and school when meeting two high school seniors here in WI.Both had jobs in health care related fields and were hoping to pursue medical careers. My first impression was that they were happy young people. Their school lives were going well, and the added element of helping others was something that they talked about with natural ease and joy.

    Not everyone can actually have a job while in high school. All can learn and be accountable in classes and have a healthy outward sense of helping others. This kind of approach prepares one for life and finding one’s true vocation.

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