Archbishop blesses Arrupe College

Archbishop blesses Arrupe College

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich prepares to bless Arrupe College during a September ceremony in Maguire Hall on Loyola’s Water Tower Campus. Looking on are Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, a Loyola graduate who sits on the Arrupe College Board of Directors. (Photo: Heather Eidson)

By Drew Sottardi  |  Senior writer

Education is the key to a better life—but so is helping others and a desire to always do more.

That was the message September 25 from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Archbishop Blase J. Cupich, and other dignitaries at the blessing of Arrupe College, the University’s new two-year associate-degree granting school for students with limited financial resources.


See a Flickr photo gallery from the blessing ceremony.
Read stories, watch videos about the Arrupe experience.
Visit the Arrupe College website for more information.

“Your education is your passport to a great future,” the mayor told a standing-room only crowd of almost 200, many of them Arrupe students. “It will open more doors than you can count today.”

“Some of us are fortunate to have walked through the door of opportunity,” the mayor said. “And the real measure of having walked through that door is when you reach back to others, do you pull that door shut? Or do you grab somebody’s hand and pull them through? I see this institution of higher education in the spirit of grabbing hundreds and hundreds of hands and pulling them through.”

The mayor also praised Loyola for its ongoing partnership with Senn High School on the city’s North Side and for consistently responding to his requests to support various education initiatives during his tenure.

“I want to say to Loyola that you have taken the mission of education, the mission of service, and the mission of picking people up and made it part of your DNA,” he said. “On behalf of the city of Chicago, thank you.”

Arrupe College opened earlier this year to nearly 160 students from low- income families to help them continue their education. It is named after Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J., a Jesuit priest who led the Society of Jesus for nearly two decades and made it his life’s work to educate men and women to serve others—an ideal that now guides Arrupe College and other Jesuit schools around the world.

Students at Arrupe College, which offers associate’s degrees in three concentrations, have small class sizes and significant one-on-one time with faculty members. They also receive financial aid support through various sources that will leave them with little or no debt.

And students who graduate from Arrupe College can transfer all of their credits to more than 100 Illinois institutions, getting them halfway toward earning a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university—at a fraction of the cost.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, a Loyola graduate who sits on the Arrupe College Board of Directors, shared her college experience with the students in attendance.

“I used to be a commuter,” she said, “just like you. I had a work-study program, right here in this building. And I loved the education I got at Loyola. I can tell you, I wouldn’t be standing here before you without my education.”

Her short speech drove home the importance of college.

“Education is the greatest equalizer,” she said. “No matter where you’re from—if you’re from Pilsen like me, or Gage Park, or the North Shore—education is the one thing that’s going to put you on that level playing field. It’s going to put you in that room as CEO. It’s going to put you in the operating room as the surgeon. It’s going to put you in the courtroom as the judge.” 

Before formally blessing the college, Archbishop Cupich addressed the crowd as well, urging them to achieve greatness.

“We’re here today because of desire,” he said. “The desire of young people to better themselves, to have the opportunity for more education and more opportunities in the future…. My hope would be that you would hold on strongly to that desire.”

But the archbishop stressed that the students needed to do even more.

“You need to also celebrate the desire of people to help you, to make this possible,” he said. “It’s a desire that meets your desire halfway. And that should be a source of encouragement for you. Hopefully that will get you through your difficult days when you’re trying to balance your life and job and education all at once.”

Student Stephanie Gonzalez, who is the first person in her family to attend college, said Arrupe has changed her life in just a few months.

“During my high school years, I was that one shy and quiet girl who was very reserved,” Gonzalez said, “but thanks to my oral communication and presentation class, I have improved on my confidence to speak up and to talk in front of an audience. Which is why I am here greeting you all today.”

Gonzalez also said her classes have helped her find her passion—mathematics—and that she loves to solve complex problems.

“They’re like puzzles that I can’t get enough of,” she said.

Without missing a beat, the mayor said: “We need you to run the budget.”

Among the Loyola administrators on hand September 25 were Stephen Katsouros, S.J., dean and executive director of Arrupe College; John P. Pelissero, PhD, interim president of Loyola University Chicago; and Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., chancellor and former president and CEO of Loyola University Chicago. Below are some of their remarks from the event:

“We want our students at Arrupe College to fall in love with the idea of being college students, of being academically successful in a rigorous Jesuit college environment.… We want them to fall in love with the idea that they can do this, that they can be successful at the corner of Pearson and State—and beyond.”—Stephen Katsouros, S.J.

“The opening of Arrupe College is a physical manifestation of our university’s commitment to ensure that all students, especially those from underserved communities, have access to an excellent education.”—John P. Pelissero, PhD

“Thank you, Father Katsouros, for taking my call and agreeing to come and take a look at this opportunity. And you’ve taken this idea and run with it.”—Michael J. Garanzini, S.J.