Wednesday, November 25, 2015

So What the Heck is Cristo Rey?

The ingenious work-study concept is saving Catholic education in poor neighborhoods across the country.

So What the Heck is Cristo Rey?

John P. Foley, S.J., is the President of the Cristo Rey Network, an association of Catholic high schools that serve urban young people through the innovative work-study model.
John P. Foley, S.J., is the President of the Cristo Rey Network, an association of Catholic high schools that serve urban young people through the innovative work-study model.

Last month, the Philadelphia Archdiocese announced the closure next June of Cardinal Dougherty and Northeast Catholic high schools. Within days, a rumor took hold that deep-pocketed alums were looking at the chance that Northeast - "North" for short - might be converted to a Cristo Rey school.  The conversion - a complicated long shot that would no doubt greatly alter North in unexpected and maybe unwelcome ways - could breathe new life into the Torresdale Ave. institution.

(On a side note, maye I just say that North has the most fiercely potective and devoted alums I think I've ever met? With the exception, perhaps, of Cardinal Dougherty's, whom I've gotten to know better in these last few weeks than I know the alums at even my own alma mater, Bishop McDevitt - Go, Lancers!)

In today's Daily News, I wrote about the juicy rumor - which the archdiocese has said is, sadly, not true - but space constraints prevented me from explaining in greater detail just what Cristo Rey is all about. So I thought I'd provide a link here to the Cristo Rey Network, founded by one Rev. John Foley, whose outside-the-box business model is helpig to save Catholic education in poor neighborhoods throughout the country.

So click away. And tell me: what do you think of the model? Would you like to see it attempted in Philly? Why or why not?

Daily News Columnist
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About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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