When 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.
In 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.
If 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.”
The 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?