By Ursula Thomas Miller
In an era when Catholic high schools are closing, DePaul Cristo Rey High School is a rarity. When it opens this summer, DePaul Cristo Rey will become the first Catholic high school to open in Cincinnati in 50 years. In an era when lower-income families are virtually shut out of attending Catholic schools because of the high cost of tuition, they’re the only ones allowed in.
“Our goal is to reach families that wouldn’t otherwise attend Catholic high schools,” says Andrew Farfsing, the school’s principal who graduated with a bachelor’s in history in 2000 and a master’s in education in 2004.
DePaul is part of a small but growing, nationwide network of Cristo Rey high schools built around an innovative program that aims, through education, to break the cycle of poverty that besets large American cities. Students in Cristo Rey schools pay for their education—and gain invaluable life experience—by working in entry-level office jobs at large corporations, law firms, small businesses and nonprofits. Rather than getting a paycheck, though, the corporate sponsors contribute the wages toward the student’s tuition.
Being part of that opportunity is what motivates Farfsing, who is following the trail blazed by another Xavier grad, John P. Foley, S.J. The Jesuit priest earned a bachelor’s degree from Xavier in 1958 and eventually helped launch the Cristo Rey network.
Farfsing is joined by other Xavier grads at the Cincinnati school: Norah Mock, DePaul's director of development, and Keianna Matthews, director of enrollment. And why not? They’ve already been well trained in the Jesuit ideals.