Seeing the news reports of the Las Ramblas terror attack in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago really hit home. This tragedy was difficult to deal with because the senseless loss of life conjures up so many questions in me about our world. I felt more personally connected, however, because I walked, shopped, and dined on this very street just six weeks earlier. It was part of an experience where I had the opportunity to visit significant places in the life of St. Ignatius. I followed the footsteps of St. Ignatius from the time of his birth in Loyola to the founding of the Jesuits and his death in Rome. Las Ramblas was more of a tourist attraction for me than a pilgrimage destination, but ironically it was in Barcelona at Santa Maria del Mar church, just blocks away from this attack, that Ignatius contemplated how he would help others to identify the goodness of God in the world, despite the challenges and strife.
As we open this school year, I consider the role that Cristo Rey Jesuit serves for our students as a stop along their individual pilgrimages. We have 116 new freshmen who have just begun this part of their journey, and we are guided by our mission to provide them with a rigorous academic environment, professional work experience, and spiritual development. Meanwhile, over 50 of our sophomores and juniors are returning after their own journeys this summer attending pre-college programs around the area and across the country. These programs gave students a better understanding of the college experience and laid the groundwork for the next steps in the college admissions process. There is certainly much hope, excitement, and success as we approach these milestones with our students. Undoubtedly as some continue on their journey, there will also be personal challenges and tragedy. Our hope is that, in the midst of it all, students are able to recognize how God walks with them no matter what life brings them on their pilgrimage. It is a message Ignatius felt the world needed to hear about 500 years ago, and it still is relevant today whether we are in Barcelona or Milwaukee.