Augustinian

St. Rita's Academic Convocation Marks the Beginning of 114th Year

By: Mike Swanson

A convocation is a group of people that comes together, formally assembled for a unique purpose. St. Rita of Cascia High School is a very unique and special institution for many Chicago-area families.

On the morning of Wednesday, August 22, 2018 the St. Rita of Cascia High School community, including parents, gathered in the St. Rita Shrine Chapel for the Annual Academic Convocation that has quickly become a cornerstone ceremony for the members of the St. Rita family. The tone of the day was set by the music which was provided by the legendary St. Rita Band under the direction of Mr. KC Perlberg. The convocation (which marks the official beginning of St. Rita’s 114th academic year) celebrates the school’s academic excellence, ancient and venerable Augustinian heritage and the traditions that developed over the course of the last 113 years the greatest of which is the bond that exists among all Ritamen brothers.

"We are indeed blessed and that is why the theme of this year will be “Thankfulness.” We have been given much and so we must give back much." - Fr. Paul

For this year’s freshmen class, that bond is especially relevant. The 158 freshmen, the Class of 2022, physically signed their names on parchment paper, enrolling them in the sacred “Book of Brotherhood” at St. Rita. After signing, each freshman received from a student government representative his St. Rita chapel tie which is worn each Wednesday for all-school Mass.

The event's master of ceremonies, Dean of Student Leadership Mr. Josh Blaszak '02 introduced three student government leaders, Stedmon Ihejirka, Michael Henze and Liam Ohle who spoke about St. Rita’s core values: Veritas (Truth), Unitas (Unity) and Caritas (Love), respectively.

As the ceremony continued, the crowd heard remarks about St. Rita’s academic excellence and college-preparatory curriculum from Mr. Wes Benak ‘81, Dean of Academics. Mr. Mike Zunica, President, gave remarks about the storied history of St. Rita.

Finally, St. Rita’s Head of School and CEO, Fr. Paul Galetto, O.S.A., Ph.D., gave the crowd an overall “State of the School” address and then took the time to speak directly to the freshmen telling them what is expected of a Ritaman and what the school community has to offer them. At the end of his remarks, Fr. Paul lit the 2018-19 “Lamp of Learning” from the flame of the Easter Candle in the St. Rita Shrine Chapel.

Fr. Paul said, "St. Rita of Cascia High School is a Catholic college-preparatory high school in the Augustinian tradition. The beginning of the academic year is a rite of passage for our freshmen. The Academic Convocation marks this important milestone while teaching new students and families the history and traditions of our school and reminding us all of the unique opportunities that exist here. This is a very exciting time at St. Rita with multiple new construction projects nearing completion and enrollment increasing. The excitement for our future was palpable at the Convocation. People want to be a part of St. Rita. I’m very pleased with the direction our school is headed thanks to our dedicated and talented faculty, staff, parents and students. We are indeed blessed and that is why the theme of this year will be “Thankfulness.” We have been given much and so we must give back much. We must be the example for others to emulate."

After the formal gathering was over, St. Rita parents and students enjoyed a quick reception with light refreshments.

St. Rita’s Academic Convocation is a unique tradition. It’s very important to Ritamen and their families because it is a public statement of all that St. Rita stands for: academic and athletic excellence, student involvement and Catholic, Augustinian affiliation and leadership. The Convocation displays and solidifies St. Rita’s welcoming environment for all to see.

Fr. Tom is Going to Italy!

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By:  John Nee '93

Fr. Thomas R. McCarthy, O.S.A. '83 has been the toast of the Southside for the past 20+ years, but now he'll be taking his talents to Vatican City to serve Pope Francis on the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.  He will serve as the next English-language Official of the Council, which was founded by Pope Benedict. 

The former President and Principal of St. Rita has long been known for his vibrant personality which has made him very popular to all on the Southside.   Whether you were from St. Rita or not, Fr. Tom's popularity had reached "rock-star" status in many of the local parishes where he would say Sunday mass and host his famous parish missions.

Nine years ago, Fr. Tom was pegged by the Augustinians to become Vocation Director for the Midwest Province, during which time he helped foster a surge in young vocations to the Order.  All the while, he remained an important presence at his alma mater, St. Rita, serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors as well as Chaplain.

Fr. Tom has served as an Augustinian priest for over 23 years and has delivered over 200 parish missions in 14 states in the last 19 years.  Currently, he resides on the campus of Villanova University where he works in the Student Life Office for First and Second Year Initiatives.  His new position will require Fr. Tom to relocate to Rome.

“It was with great humility and shock that I received the news of my appointment,” said Fr. McCarthy, “I feel blessed that my preaching ministry over the past 19 years has opened this door for me. I believe wholeheartedly in the approach Pope Francis is taking in reaching out everyone and helping them encounter Christ.”

"I believe this is a recognition of Father Tom's enthusiasm and passion for preaching the Gospel, particularly as evidenced in his parish missions and his years of work at St. Rita High School and at the St. Rita Shrine and his work in Vocation Ministry," said life-long friend and Prior Provincial of the Midwest Augustinians, Fr. Bernard C. Scianna, O.S.A. '83.

St. Rita Earns High Ranking from Niche

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Chicago is a world-class city. City residents and suburbanites enjoy first-rate amenities. Not only does Chicago have unrivaled architecture, museums and diversity, it also has some of the best Catholic High Schools in the nation. The opportunity of a lifetime awaits eighth graders on Saturday, December 2--high school entrance exam day in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

It seems this new date, earlier than in past years, has left many eighth grade students still undecided on what high school is the best fit for them. Luckily, with all the quality Catholic High School choices available to students on the South Side of Chicago, it's hard to go wrong.

Many parents reported that Niche and its rankings helped them weigh their high school options.

This past year, Niche* released a new list of Top-Ranked Chicago Southland High Schools.

On that list, St. Rita of Cascia High School is the top-ranked all-boys Catholic school in the Chicago Southland. St. Rita also captures the the #2-ranked spot on the Chicago Southland best-overall Catholic school list. 

St. Rita comes in at #8 overall when compared to all 67 Catholic high schools in the entire State of Illinois.

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St. Rita earned an "A+" overall Niche** grade. The Mustangs also earned an "A+" in Academics and Clubs & Activities, an "A" in the College Preparation, and an "A-" in the Teacher category.

St. Rita also received a very respectable grade of "B+" in Sports and a "B" in Diversity. When reviewing St. Rita's profile, you'll see it continues to set the high-water mark among it's peers.

To learn more about St. Rita, please contact our admissions team at (773) 925-RITA. We invite you to take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime and test at St. Rita on Saturday, December 2 at 8:00 a.m. 

* According to its website, Niche rigorously analyzes dozens of public data sets and millions of reviews to produce comprehensive rankings, report cards, and profiles for every K-12 school, college, and neighborhood in the U.S. Further, Niche states it has the most comprehensive data available on U.S. schools and neighborhoods. Further, according to Niche.com, the best Catholic high school rankings are based on statistics, student and parent reviews, and expert insights. Ranking factors include SAT/ACT scores, the quality of colleges that students consider, student-teacher ratio, student and parent reviews, and more.

St. Rita Named Top-Ranked All-Boys Catholic High School in Chicago's Southland

According to the Beverly Patch, Niche has released a new list of top-ranked Chicago Southland High Schools.

On that list, St. Rita of Cascia High School is the top-ranked all-boys Catholic school in the Chicago southland. St. Rita also captures the the #2-ranked spot on the Chicago southland best-overall Catholic school list. St. Rita comes in at #8 overall when compared to all 67 Catholic high schools in the entire State of Illinois.

St. Rita earned an "A+" overall Niche grade. The Mustangs also earned an "A+" in Academics and Clubs & Activities, an "A" in the College Preparation, and an "A-" in the Teacher category.

St. Rita also received a very respectable grade of "B+" in Sports and a "B" in Diversity. When reviewing St. Rita's profile, you'll see it continues to set the high-water mark among it's peers.

To learn more about St. Rita, please contact our admissions team at (773) 925-RITA, consider registering for a shadow day, or mark your calendar for our October 22 open house.

* According to its website, Niche rigorously analyzes dozens of public data sets and millions of reviews to produce comprehensive rankings, report cards, and profiles for every K-12 school, college, and neighborhood in the U.S. Further, Niche states it has the most comprehensive data available on U.S. schools and neighborhoods.