A Dynamic History
DePaul Cristo Rey High School is unlike any of the other high schools in the Greater Cincinnati area. While it, too, offers academic excellence in the context of faith that is the hallmark of Catholic education, this school does even more. DePaul Cristo Rey opens the doors of opportunity to hundreds of young people for whom a Catholic high school education seemed beyond reach. It is a school created from a proven model of success.
The Cristo Rey model, now transforming urban education in America, grew from the success of the first Cristo Rey High School that opened in 1996 in the Pilsen/Little Village area of Southwest Chicago. Chronic poverty and gangs fostered a high school drop-out rate that was near 75 percent. Cristo Rey offered a challenging education and, through the unique Corporate Work Study Program, students earned a substantial part of their tuition. This unconventional method of educating urban youth became a powerful model and led to the creation of the Cristo Rey Network. With its proven record of educational success, the Network has expanded from one school in 1996 to 32 now.
It is fitting that the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati brought the Cristo Rey concept to this area. Founded by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, who established the first free parochial school in America in 1810, the Sisters of Charity have been innovators and courageous leaders in education for more than 200 years. Their ongoing advocacy on behalf of those who cannot afford a quality education parallels the Cristo Rey Network mission.
The school is named for St. Vincent de Paul, who was known for kindness and charity to all classes of people he encountered in Paris in the 1600s. His emphasis on charity and service inspired the formation of the Daughters of Charity devoted to serving the poor and sick. Elizabeth Seton formed her community of sisters in Emmitsburg, Md., the first in America, based on the rules of that order.
From that religious community, four Sisters came to Cincinnati to open an orphanage and school for girls in 1829. Later, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati formed their own community separate from the Sisters in Maryland and have since sponsored numerous schools, hospitals, orphanages and social service agencies. Today more than 400 Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati serve in diverse ministries in 16 states and two foreign countries.
The community’s newest sponsored ministry, DePaul Cristo Rey High School, proudly promotes the virtues of its namesake and continues the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati legacy of educational excellence.