It was 57 years ago this month that a delegation of three Viatorian priests were dispatched to the Diocese

Fr. Adalbert Mayr, left, Fr. James Crilly, center, and Fr. Thomas Wise in 1961, when they leave St. Viator Church in Chicago following a send-off blessing before they depart for Colombia

of Bogotá in Colombia. They answered a call from Pope John XXIII, who in 1961 called for religious congregations to help evangelize Latin America.

The founding fathers included Fr. James Crilly, CSV, Fr. Tom Wise, CSV, and Fr. Burt Mayr, CSV. Sadly, only Fr. Crilly remains, but in reflecting on his historic years as a missionary with students, he described it as one of the highlights of his ministry.

Knowing no Spanish and little about their new country, they arrived by boat in Barranquilla on Sept. 27, 1961. Their assignment? To start a Catholic secondary school that ultimately would lead to more teachers of the faith.

Fr. James Crilly, with a student at Colegio San Viator in Bogotá, circa 1967

Less than two years later they opened Colegio San Viator in prefabricated classrooms. Its 32 students were taught by five Viatorian priests and one lay teacher. More than 60 years later, the school is thriving, with an enrollment of more than 1,000 students.

Colegio San Viator is a billingual, co-educational institution and stands out as one of the best schools in Bogotá, especially after it was authorized as an International Baccalaureate school in April, 2016. This worldwide recognition affirms the educational mission of the Colegio, and of the Viatorians who founded it and continued to run the school.

Colegio San Viator

Colegio San Viator