The following comes from an August 8 Catholic Voice article by Michele Jurich:
A Cristo Rey high school will open in the Diocese of Oakland in fall 2018, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, told a gathering at the Cathedral Event Center July 31.
“Today I want to announce the intention of the Diocese of Oakland to establish a Cristo Rey high school here in our diocese,” Bishop Barber said. The bishop acknowledged “there is a significant amount of work to make this dream a reality.”
The school, whose working name is East Bay Cristo Rey High School, is expected to enroll a freshman class of 125 young men and women in fall 2018, and add a grade a year through fall 2021. A site has not yet been disclosed.
The Cristo Rey Network, established 20 years ago in Chicago, combines academics with work experience. Each student works one day a week, with four students sharing one full-time, entry-level clerical or administrative position. The salary is paid to the school, toward off-setting tuition. All parents contribute, however modestly, to tuition.
The 30 Cristo Rey high schools nationally serve about 10,000 students; 97 percent are students of color and the average family income is $35,000.
Three years ago, when he became bishop of Oakland, Bishop Barber said, “I could see our Catholic schools in our most prosperous neighborhoods were doing fine,” he said, noting the vitality of De La Salle and Carondelet high schools in Concord. “When I looked over on this side of the mountain, especially in inner-city Oakland,” he said he found schools to be struggling.
“Kids who live in those neighborhoods can’t afford tuition to attend Catholic school,” he said.
“That is what I looked at when I looked at Oakland: We need a Cristo Rey school,” he said. “We need that for our kids in Oakland.”
To establish a Cristo Rey school, the Oakland diocese needs to partner with a religious order. Bishop Barber said he is in talks with the Brothers of the Christian Schools, who have a “long and distinguished presence in the diocese” including Saint Mary’s College, Saint Mary’s College High School in Berkeley, De La Salle High School and De La Salle Academy in Concord.
The plan for the Cristo Rey High School received an endorsement from California Gov. Jerry Brown, himself the founder of two charter schools, Oakland Military Academy and the Oakland School for the Arts.
Not long after Bishop Barber’s installation in 2013, he shared his dream for a Cristo Rey School with the governor. “He gave me the first donation, he and his wife, Anne,” Bishop Barber said. “I was greatly encouraged by that.”