The baccalaureate Mass and commencement exercises took place Saturday at Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep, with all the traditional pomp and circumstance. But it was a feeling of gratitude that permeated the day.

Fr. Mark Francis accepts gifts presented by students during the offertory of the baccalaureate Mass.

Fr. Mark Francis, CSV, underscored this feeling of gratitude in his homily at the baccalaureate Mass. While he affirmed the graduates’ college preparatory education, as well as the practical work experience they gained from their corporate jobs, it was the values they learned that will help them make a difference in the world.

“It is my hope that you have also been deeply nourished spiritually,” Fr. Francis said, “by the Gospel that shows all of us what really constitutes a good, happy and fulfilled life — is a life lived in gratitude to God and to others who have shown us God’s mercy and love.”

All 95 graduates in the class were accepted into four-year colleges, making this the fifth year in a row that the school has had 100% acceptance rate. Some of their college choices include: Northwestern, Hope College, Fairfield University, Dominican University, Howard University, St. Louis University, Marquette, Lake Forest College, University of Illinois, Loyola University Chicago, Trinity College, St. Olaf College and College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Students process into graduation.

Still, graduating and getting into college is just the first step, said its President, Preston Kendall.

“Part of our mission is that we not only get our students into college, but we get them to college — and through college,” Kendall says.

Consequently, the school has support specialists on staff who work with alumni in getting them through college as well as with finding jobs and career planning. Its college and career counseling for alumni is designed to compliment the academic support they receive from their respective colleges.

Before receiving their diplomas, Fr. Francis again framed their graduation day as a challenge to live out the values they learned from their parents and Cristo Rey St. Martin.

“May you always strive to be like the righteous in the Gospel — men and women of compassion, service and solidarity,” he said. “May you use your talents and blessings to uplift others and build a more just and merciful society. And may you always welcome Christ, the King, to reign in your hearts and lives, now and forever.”




The Viatorian Community was one of the first religious congregations to support the school when it opened in 2004. Its members have served on the faculty, in administration and on its board of trustees, all while helping to financially support the school and its mission of providing a college preparatory education to students with limited financial means.