by Daniel Meloy
Republished with permission from The Michigan Catholic
Jesuit school founded to give young inner-city men access to quality Catholic education
September 12, 2018 — Loyola High School opened its doors in 1993 when then-Detroit Archbishop (later Cardinal) Adam Maida and Detroit Jesuit provincial superior Fr. Joseph Daoust, SJ, had a vision for Catholic education in inner-city Detroit.
In an era when many Catholic schools were closing their doors in the city, the two men set out to establish an all-boys school for young men who normally wouldn’t be afforded the chance of a private school education.
Twenty-five years later, Loyola High School is inviting donors, alumni, and supporters to celebrate the school’s quarter-century mark of building “Men for Others,” the motto for the Jesuit school.
“We founded this school with a mission to help a segment of the urban male population get an education many of their peers were not afforded,” said Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, president of Loyola High School. “This year we are celebrating 25 years of helping these 45 young men in each class take their God-given gifts and develop them in the service of others.”
Located on the grounds of the former St. Francis de Sales High School on Fenkell Avenue, Loyola High School has served as a beacon of hope for the students and surrounding northwest Detroit community. Enrollment for 2018-19 is projected to be around 150 to 160.
“The Jesuits have a charism for being at the forefront of urban education,” Fr. Luedtke said. “While we’re small, we are nimble enough to continue to provide a young man the best education while also exploring new opportunities for them to grow their gifts and talents.”
Loyola High School celebrated a 25th anniversary Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in Detroit on Sept. 7, which was followed by a legacy gala, where alumni and donors were joined by Cardinal Maida, Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Fr. Daoust, and Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ, the provincial of the USA Midwest Jesuits.
The school is planning smaller events throughout the year celebrating alumni from its first graduating class in 1997 to the most recent graduating class of 2018.
“We want to use the 25th anniversary as a reason to invite alums to come back to the school and share how Loyola has changed their lives,” said Wyatt Jones, principal of Loyola High School and class of 1998 alumnus. “We want to use this occasion as a chance for young men to come into our school and share with our currents student how important Loyola is and the fantastic things our alums are doing in the community.”
Jones said Loyola has much more to do than celebrate its past as it looks forward to more ways it can engage with the community.
The school is finishing a $300,000 renovation to its kitchen/cafeteria space, which will be the backbone of a new culinary program that will be open to students and the school’s neighbors.
“We definitely have a vision for where we want to be on the horizon,” Jones said. “Down the line, we would like to build a football field and community park, where we can invite the community to use the track and really make it a focal point of the community.”
The school is preparing to launch a fundraising campaign for a new chapel that will be shared with neighboring St. Peter Claver Parish. The current, damaged chapel is in the process of being demolished along with the old St. Francis de Sales rectory in order to make way for a small green space along with the new chapel.
“We are blessed with a solid foundation with our campus and a strong endowment with a good group of donors,” Fr. Luedtke said. “For the city of Detroit, we offer a beacon of hope, and that’s why we’re looking to the future. If we can get the neighborhood population, the businesses and church together, great things can happen for our community and our city.”
Community involvement, coupled with helping students access a quality Catholic-Jesuit education, will always be the hallmark of Loyola’s mission, Jones said.
“When you look at St. Ignatius, his mission of forming Jesuit schools and working with the marginalized, that is what we are doing here,” Jones said. “We are working with students who may not normally have the same opportunities as others, students who may have lost focus. We hold these students to the highest expectations, regardless of what’s going on in their personal lives. We show them what success looks like, and it’s contagious.”Republished with permission from The Michigan Catholic, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Detroit