February 3, 2015 marked the renewal signing of the Sustaining Agreement between the Maryland Province Jesuits and Gesu School—one of only two Jesuit Nativity Miguel elementary schools (pre-K through eighth grade) nationwide. Fr. Robert Hussey, S.J., Provincial, attended the ceremony in Philadelphia to execute the agreement, which acknowledges the sponsorship of Gesu School by the Maryland Province and affirms “the commitment to this shared ministry” among Gesu’s Board of Trustees, the Society of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters.
In 2014, Gesu underwent the rigorous review process. The renewal agreement officially recognizing Gesu as a Jesuit school was “unanimously and enthusiastically” endorsed.
Gesu School was founded in 1873 as a parish school and transformed into an independent school in 1993. In 2008, the first signing of the Sustaining Agreement formalized Gesu’s 100-plus-year identity as a Jesuit-sponsored elementary school, while also affirming the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters as co-stewards of the school. Today, Gesu School serves 450 children. Its nonselective admission policy intentionally gives priority to students in six geographically close ZIP codes, three of which are the poorest in Philadelphia.
The Gesu community commemorated the signing with reflections on why attending a Jesuit/IHM school is meaningful. Bryan Carter, President and CEO of Gesu School, commented, “As a lay president and the ‘Director of the Work,’ I am fortunate to have at Gesu School the presence of the Jesuits, Fr. Neil Ver‘Schneider, and the IHM sisters, Sr. Ellen Convey and Sr. Pat McGrenra, as partners in forming our children to be men and women for others.”
The Gesu Gospel Choir set a celebratory and solemn tone, singing “Jesus Christ Is the Way” and a dedication to Pope Francis, “I Am a Friend of God.” Student testimonials also highlighted the value of a Jesuit/IHM education. “Gesu students and faculty are encouraged to live the Magis in their daily lives—in and out of school. Doing your all to be your best, and serving God and others is worked into the curriculum. Learning how to live by Jesuit mottos and customs is taught not only in class, but by example,” shared Ishea, an eighth grade student.
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