Notre Dame’s National Bus Tour visits Houston schools

April 8, 2014

HOUSTON — Celebrating Catholic schools across the U.S. as part of a 50-city national bus tour, the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at the University of Notre Dame visited Our Lady of Guadalupe School and Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston to honor the work done by the local Houston Catholic school community.

“We want to express our gratitude to the teachers, leaders, students and families who enable Catholic schools to develop the God-given talents of each child, and we hope to draw greater attention to the amazing legacy and bright future of these schools that form engaged citizens and advance the common good,” Father Timothy Scully, C.S.C., the founder of ACE, said in remarks at one of the stops made by the bus. “After 20 years of providential growth that has allowed the Alliance for Catholic Education to work with so many communities, dioceses, schools and partners, we want to stand alongside them to renew our commitment to serve more children and families through Catholic schools.”

The ACE bus stopped first at Our Lady of Guadalupe School on the morning of March 24 for a prayer service led by the faculty of the school. They also awarded Maureen Hackett, a strong supporter of Catholic schools and the Houston community as a whole, with a University of Notre Dame Sorin Award for Service to Catholic Schools. 

Named for the founder of the university, Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., the award honors those whose tireless commitment to support, sustain and transform Catholic schools has shaped the lives of countless children, their families and communities. 

These awardees inspire others through their dedicated service to the Gospel through the apostolate of Catholic Education.

“Thank you for this honor,” Hackett said. “It’s a treat to be a part of the University of Notre Dame, and this is a fabulous program.” 

Monday afternoon, the ACE team traveled to Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School to honor Father T.J. Martinez, S.J., who also received a Sorin award. Father Martinez is the founding president of one of the youngest, largest and fastest growing Cristo Rey schools in the nation. 

In five short years, Father Martinez and his leadership team have grown the Houston school’s student population from 80 to more than 450; added 135 blue-ribbon corporations, so that every student has a job; purchased a nine-acre facility and renovated it into a 21st century educational institution; and raised nearly $22 million to fund the operating and capital projects of the school, including a new Jesuit residence and new conference center. In June 2013, Cristo Rey Jesuit produced its first class of graduates, all of whom were accepted into college.

ACE, a provider of services and talent to Catholic K through 12 schools around the nation, is currently undertaking the University of Notre Dame Fighting for Our Children’s Future National Bus Tour, a year-long effort honoring the work of Catholic school communities around the country and raising awareness of the profound impact an excellent education can make on a child’s life.

“At Cristo Rey Jesuit, we do the difficult immediately, and the impossible soon after,” Father Martinez said. “Twenty years ago Father Scully, another founder, decided that he would change the tide, and that he would do the impossible, and that he would found an alliance of Catholic education that would turn stories around and serve children across the county. Father Scully did the impossible, and now the ACE program is the standard on Catholic education, and Cristo Rey Jesuit has benefited from the high standard.”