On Friday, December 8th, 2023, the ICA Cristo Rey community gathered around the Eucharistic table for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast day served as a moment to reflect and celebrate ICA's 140th anniversary this year. With esteemed guests like our school sponsor, the Dominican Sisters of the Mission of San Jose and alumnae ranging from 1960s to the 2010s, the auditorium was transformed into a sacred space of sisterhood. As students filled the seats, members of our student choir surrounded the corners of the auditorium ringing individual bells of various notes. Resembling the sound of church bells, the students ushered the congregation into a state of prayer and reflection.
Presided by the pastor of the Most Holy Redeemer in the Castro District, Fr. Matt Link is a familiar and friendly face to ICA students. For his brief homily, Fr. Matt extended his gratitude to the ICA community and spoke of how ICA students are a source of inspiration and a beacon of hope for the world. He then handed over the microphone to two student preachers to share their own reflections. As a school in the Dominican tradition, we look to the Order of Preachers as an example of leadership. In the Dominican spirit, Jasmin O. (‘24) and Valeria E. (‘25) preached about their experience being ICA students. Junior leader, Valeria (as pictured) started her reflection saying, “As a student of three years attending ICA Cristo Rey, I've come to understand that every time I enter this building, I discover new potential in myself that I was unaware I had.” Senior leader, Jasmin shared her gratitude to the ICA teachers and staff who supported and motivated her throughout high school. She said, “Being part of this community reminds me that I am never alone on my journey as a young person navigating life’s ups and downs. Through the support from the students and mentors at ICA, I have learned that I can’t do everything myself; I need open-minded and encouraging people surrounding me to help me persevere.” Their words of wisdom reflect the 140 year legacy of sisterhood that ICA uniquely fosters in the heart of the Mission District.
The liturgy concluded with the alumnae leading the school in singing the Alma Mater -- a song that unites all past, present, and future ICA students. After Mass, the Dominican sisters, alumnae, teachers and staff gathered for a reception in the library where they re-connected with familiar faces and reminisced over their fond memories of ICA. Amongst the group of guests we were honored to have the presence of two former ICA principals, Sister Mary Catherine Antczak and Lisa Graham. Their attendance added an extra layer of significance, symbolizing the continuity and enduring legacy of ICA Cristo Rey. As the guests perused the preserved archives, flipping through the pages of yearbooks and browsing copies of past issues of the school newspaper, the Megaphone, waves of nostalgia washed over them. Images from as far back as 1883 were displayed throughout the room, transforming the library into a living museum of all the cherished memories and milestones of the community. As the reception came to an end, there lingered a sense of gratitude and fulfillment. This event was not only a gathering, but a celebration of a sisterhood that transcends time and space. May the Spartan spirit continue to live on in our community for centuries to come.