Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus’

Jesuit Taps into His Entrepreneurial Spirit while Overseeing Chicago Prep School

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Jesuit Father Chris Devron says he has always been interested in start-ups and has an entrepreneurial personality. So it’s fitting that he’s president of Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, the first all-new Catholic high school on Chicago’s West Side in more than 80 years.

Fr. Devron has come full circle in many ways. In 1995 he was a Jesuit novice in Chicago when he witnessed the beginning of the country’s first Cristo Rey school, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, while attending the press conference announcing that the Jesuits were starting the school.

He remembers being thrilled that the Society of Jesus would be open to something new. “My exposure to that point had been that we had schools that were long-established, and that we were struggling with diversification and becoming less and less affordable to lower-income families. To see there was this new model that would help kids and families [afford Jesuit education], that was really exciting to me,” he says.

Christ the King, which follows the Cristo Rey work-study model, opened at a temporary site with 120 students in 2008, and its brand new building opened in January 2010. An architecture critic at the Chicago Tribune said the new building’s “business-like image and its unrepentant sense of newness — a shock amid the tattered brick buildings around it — are both there by design, sending a message that the building marks a fresh start.”

Despite being in a low-income neighborhood, families can afford the private education Christ the King offers because of its work-study model in which students work five days a month at a corporation, helping them pay for their tuition. A few students share a full-time job at businesses such as U.S. Bank, Loyola Medical Center and even the Chicago Blackhawks.

Education had been Fr. Devron’s passion even before joining the Society, and it led him to his vocation. After attending Notre Dame as an undergrad, he taught in the Bronx. He thought he would teach for a year and then go to law school, but teaching put him in touch with his deeper desires.

“I began to wonder and pray and ask myself what it would be like if I were to continue teaching, but to do so as a priest ultimately,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »