Catholic High School Information Guide
Bishop asks businesses to support
new school with employment offers
"On my hands and knees" Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, asked business owners in the Interstate 680 corridor to find jobs for students who will attend a new Cristo Rey high school in Oakland.
Talking at the September Catholics at Work breakfast in Danville, the bishop said that lining up student jobs is essential to the success of the school, which will open in the St. Elizabeth High School campus in 2018.
Bishop Barber sketched out more details of his plan for the Cristo Rey school, emphasizing that finding student jobs is a priority.
Cristo Rey provides strong academic programs for students in low income families. To offset their inability to pay normal tuition costs, students share a job in professional work situations. Each works one day a week and has four longer class days.
The Cristo Rey program began in 1996 in Chicago. It now has 32 schools across the country. This fall, two new schools opened in Tampa and Baton Rouge.
Bishop Barber revealed that St. Elizabeth High School currently is being subsidized by the diocese with about $500,000 each year. And while offering a strong educational program, it has been in a long term population decline, with only 143 students this year.
He also said that the Brothers of the Christian Schools have agreed to run the Cristo Rey program. The Christian Brothers already run De La Salle High School and De La Salle Academy in Concord, Saint Mary's College High School in Berkeley and Saint Mary's College in Moraga.
"I need $2.5 million to start the school; I've raised about $1.5 million," Bishop Barber said, adding "but it's a job!" One upcoming fundraiser is the Oct. 1 Bishop's Round Up & Western BBQ in Alamo.
Bishop Barber conceded that some logical sources of support are resistant, including some Silicon Valley businesses unwilling to help faith-based schools.
Still, the key to the new program is finding the shareable jobs, that pay about $32,000. In other Cristo Rey schools the students show themselves useful workers, earning their pay while providing a significant share of the cost of their education.
Bishop Barber explained "that's why I'm here, on my hands and knees, to ask if you would think seriously about giving one of our Cristo Rey kids a job."
Since the St. Elizabeth facility is just two blocks from the Fruitvale BART station the jobs could be almost anywhere in the diocese.
Bishop Barber was asked about plans discussed decades ago to build a new traditional Catholic high school in the Tri-Valley area.
He responded that the diocese "has considerable debt, over $100 million," so there is no way it will be able to fund a new Catholic high school.
He added that he would support development of a privately funded Catholic high school similar to Junipero Serra High School in Orange County.
That successful private Catholic school was co-founded by Tim Busch, a successful businessman and attorney, after he had started a Catholic elementary school.
Busch outlined his approach to lay Catholic leadership at the Catholics at Work breakfast last May.
back to top