St. Rita To Get Fitness Center After Receiving $2.5 Million Gift

St. Rita High School plans to break ground on a new fitness center Friday, thanks to a $2.5 million gift.

The pledged donation came from Bernard DelGiorno, first vice president of investments for UBS Financial Services. In the past, DelGiorno has made big donations to the University of Chicago.

In recognition of his gift, the all-boys Catholic high school at 7740 S. Western Ave. will officially be now located on the Bernard J. DelGiorno Campus. The school's name, however, will remain St. Rita.

St. Rita High School's Mrozek Family Fitness Center

St. Rita High School's Mrozek Family Fitness Center

Aside from a new fitness center, the money will be used for resurfacing the gym floor and improving the baseball complex. A portion of the gift — $800,000 — also will be used to boost the school's endowment, St. Rita's President Michael Zunica said.

"We really feel good about our facility here. But we always thought we had a phenomenal house with a bad basement in terms of the weight room," Zunica said Wednesday.

Construction of the 6,000-square-foot fitness center is expected to be complete when students return from summer break Aug. 17, Zunica said. The fitness center will be named for Ernie Mrozek, a 1971 St. Rita graduate and who served as the school's president for five years until Zunica was named to the post in 2016.

St. Rita High School Donates Over $1,200 to SXU’s Veteran Memorial Fund

SXU SVA President Dan McLaughlin '09 and St. Rita President Mike Zunica (Hon)

SXU SVA President Dan McLaughlin '09 and St. Rita President Mike Zunica (Hon)

Saint Xavier University’s (SXU) Student Veteran Alliance (SVA) recently received a donation from St. Rita High School for their veteran memorial, which is planned to be stationed on (SXU's) campus near Lake Marion. SXU’s SVA has always been a community-based organization, where members give back and bring awareness to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

That said, SXU’s SVA President Daniel McLaughlin (a 2009 St. Rita graudate) reached out to his high school alma mater to share what the veteran organization has been involved in throughout the academic year. Impressed by their efforts, St. Rita High School held a dress-down day to help support a portion of the funding for the veteran memorial. 

Eric Whitaker '83 Is Revamping The Youth Program That Got Him Into Medicine

By: SHIA KAPOS, Chicago Magazine

After years being known as the pal and golfing buddy to former President Barack Obama, Eric Whitaker slipped out of the spotlight to start a company. 

St. Rita Graduate  Eric Whitaker '83   (Photo Credit:  Shia Kapos, Chicago Magazine )

St. Rita Graduate Eric Whitaker '83  (Photo Credit: Shia Kapos, Chicago Magazine)

Now the self-described health-care investor is back in. The 53-year-old has joined the board of the DuSable Museum and Education Center and he’s rebuilding the little-known youth program—the Chicago Area Health and Medical Careers Program—that closed down 18 months ago when state funding dried up.

The program started in the late 1970s at the Illinois Institute of Technology as a mentoring program for students looking for careers in health care and medicine. (It’s for years been nicknamed “Champ” because the real acronym—CAHMCP—is hard to pronounce.) Whitaker was one of the first students to enroll in Champ when he was in high school on the Southwest Side.

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.