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March 27, 2024 — Fr. John P. Foley, SJ, spent 34 years as a missionary in Peru — a full career in most lines of work. But then, in 1995, he was missioned back to the United States to start a high school for Latino students from low-income backgrounds in Chicago. Despite immense challenges — like not knowing where the school would be even at the press conference announcing there would be a new school — Cristo Rey Jesuit High School was founded in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood in 1996.

Centered on an innovative corporate work study model, through which students spend a day a week working with partner companies, low-income students were able to access a high-quality Catholic prep school education. The idea spread like wildfire and the Cristo Rey Network was born, which today includes 39 schools around the country. Fr. Foley led the network after eight years as the first school’s president.

Host Mike Jordan Laskey asked Fr. Foley to share the stories of those early days and how they found such incredible success despite the odds. Learn more about the Cristo Rey Network.

AMDG is a production of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.

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