Navigating our world together, rooted in our Catholic Jesuit tradition

President's Letter Michael Wood ’99

To our Jesuit High School Community:

We take great pride in the fact that our alumni, parents, students, faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees are all committed to our school’s wellbeing. To produce Men for Others who are academically, ethically, spiritually, and morally prepared for college and life’s challenges has always been our mission, consistent with the Catholic Church’s teachings. With every graduating class, our young men make their way to very diverse careers, able to inquire, learn, and discern.

While we work toward common goals, we are not perfect as an institution and a community. Recognizing this, we strive to do our best and learn from every experience at all levels of the organization. With this in mind, we want to directly and transparently address concerns some parents have raised regarding the balance with which we have addressed fundamental issues such as racism and politics.

Jesuit High School Sacramento’s academic, religious, and moral foundation is rooted in our Catholic faith. That faith gives us clear guidance on the topic of racism: it is real, it is pernicious, and it is sinful. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in Open Wide Our Hearts, outlines the Church’s stance on issues of race and racism in the modern context. This document has been a clear guide for us and many other Catholic organizations striving to reconcile our faith as one of hope with the real pain and harm too many of our brothers and sisters have experienced. The issues we are confronting as a society and a people of faith are difficult. Were we to ignore them, we would do so at our own peril and at a great disservice to our students. Like so many other schools, we have endeavored to listen and better understand our students’ and families’ experiences. We continuously work to improve our capacity to respond prayerfully and supportively in the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Even with this need to improve ourselves, our curriculum has remained consistent. Our focus has always been to introduce students to diverse perspectives as a means of fostering constructive dialogue and discernment. The goal is to give students a foundation upon which they learn to discern for themselves, treat others with respect, and appreciate the value of service. Our mission is to form men of conscience, not men of any specific political ideology. We strive to create a safe environment where our students may form and shape their own identity so they may build the skills necessary to respond to life’s challenges with discernment and compassion. One only needs to look to the broad base of Jesuit Sacramento alumni who have gone on to serve their communities, industries, and country to see the fruits of a Jesuit education in bloom.

Like our students, we learn and grow from experience. When some parents raised a concern, we invited them to dialogue with us. We listened, learned, and have taken their feedback into account. Some have suggested that our ongoing discussions of racism make broad-brush assertions about prejudice and bias, or that the means we use to discuss them are not the ones they would choose. Our focus is on honoring peoples’ lived experiences to learn the importance of equity and equality for all. This can sometimes involve focusing on or highlighting perspectives with which we may not be familiar or comfortable. Still, our mission calls us to guide students to listen, to understand, to develop compassion. This past summer, we listened to former and current members of our community from all backgrounds. They courageously expressed real pain that they have experienced or witnessed at Jesuit Sacramento. Honoring the lived experiences of these students, alumni, and parents, and striving to make our community more welcoming and inclusive, is and will continue to be our goal moving forward.

A recent optional voter education event, which was organized by the Jesuits West Province along with Jesuit Sacramento faculty and students, and which included the Diocese of Sacramento, was held via Zoom. Some parents felt the event was one-sided. At this event, participants were invited to speak on either side of several California state ballot initiatives and clarify connections between that advocacy and Catholic teaching. Students presented both perspectives on the issues.

The Jesuit Sacramento Administration has been clear that, while students benefit from constructively addressing difficult issues, employees cannot promote or endorse any one political or social agenda. When specific issues are brought to the administration’s attention, we address them following our normal practices and with respect for the teachers who have a deep commitment to students and the school. Please, make no mistake: we are fortunate to have a faculty that puts your sons’ education and formation above all else. 

As we move forward, Jesuit Sacramento’s commitment remains as true as it has since our founding in 1963. We strive to provide the best possible environment to prepare graduates to make a positive difference locally and globally. We are in partnership with parents and our extended JHS Sacramento community, and we invite those with questions or concerns to call or meet with us personally. Above all else, we want the best for Jesuit and the students we are entrusted with educating and sending out into the world with the support of the parents, alumni, and generations past. We appreciate all those who contribute to making Jesuit High School Sacramento such an extraordinary place and look forward to continuing our work to graduate Men for Others. We appreciate your trust and partnership as we work toward our mission.

As we write to you on the eve of Veterans’ Day, we acknowledge with gratitude those who have served, or are currently serving, in the military services, and their loved ones. We also take this opportunity to thank those who serve our region in law enforcement, as first responders, and all medical professionals.

May God bless you and your families, and may God bless Jesuit High School Sacramento.

Rev. John P. McGarry, S.J., President | Michael Wood, Ed.D., ’99, Principal | Julie Nauman, Chair, Board of Trustees, Alex ’11 | Sean Minor, Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees, Nick ’13, Jack ’20, Charlie ’22