Christ the King College Prep School at 5088 W. Jackson hosted a birthday celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this past Monday. They also took the opportunity to officially dedicate their new building.

This is the first Catholic high school built on Chicago’s West Side in 85 years. The dedication/celebration was attended by Gov. Pat Quinn, Sen. Dick Durbin, Ald. Ed Smith (28th  Ward), state Rep. LaShawn Ford (8th District), parents, contributors and community residents. A standing room only crowd attended Mass, presided over by the Very Reverend Timothy Kesicki, S.J., provincial of the Chicago and Detroit provinces of the Society of Jesus. Students and staff have been planning for months for this special event, which featured Christ the King’s Gospel Choir and praise dancers.

In his opening remarks, Gov. Quinn, who has a home in Galewood, said, “I can say the West Side is the best side. I think it is very important that we understand the lessons of service. Dr. King said, “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. The Jesuit model of service to others is a very important model that all of us need to embrace every day of our lives. So when people come to this wonderful school, this wonderful place, it’s not just the physical place. It’s a place where people of good faith can come together, learn together, and also share together their method of service.”

Christ the King is part of a group of Jesuit schools operated by the Cristo Rey Network, a national association of high schools in mostly low-income communities.

Rev. Christopher Devron’s sermon highlighted the philosophy of Dr. King. He said the students were the “new wine” of our vineyard. “They will become the doctors who treat us when we get sick. They are the new wine who will become the engineers to build our cities, to rebuild our crumbling blocks and foreclosed homes. These young men and women are the new wine who will become the musicians to entertain us and the artists who will dazzle us. They are the new wine who will become the teachers and the professors who impart and unlock knowledge. They are the new wine who will become the politicians to service us. Not for their own good, but for the common good … the new wine who will become the community organizers to unleash the power of “Yes we can.”

Rev. Kesicki spoke about the history of the Jesuits.

“I want you to know your school is as old as the tradition of Jesuit education and as new as the fresh paint that is still drying on your classroom walls. … Four hundred years from now, you will be written into the history of Jesuit education.”