Fresh from opening St. Peter Claver High School in Dodoma, Tanzania, former college professor Fr. Martin Connell returns to the U.S. to discuss the progress of Jesuit efforts in Africa
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CHICAGO –– Fr. Martin Connell, SJ, will be visiting the United States from February 26 to March 18 to discuss the Jesuits’ successful efforts to open a new high school in Tanzania. During his four-week tour, he will make stops in Detroit; Toledo, Ohio; Cleveland; New York; Chicago; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Toronto. His visit is being coordinated by the Midwest Jesuits.
Connell left his faculty position in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University in March 2009 to help open St. Peter Claver High School in Dodoma, Tanzania. Located off the central east coast of Africa, the Catholic Jesuit boarding school opened in January 2011 with Connell as the headmaster. It currently serves 140 boys and girls in their first year of secondary school.
Connell’s primary mission is to help Tanzanians “build capacity” by establishing a strong educational system. He says the notion of building capacity is a fundamental value of the democratic way of life. Drawing from the messages of Thomas Jefferson, Connell believes that education will not only help improve the Tanzanians’ quality of life, but also support a more informed democracy. Through incorporating these strategies, Connell hopes to help the Tanzanians put an end to the poverty that many face on a daily basis.
“St. Peter Claver High School will cultivate these democratic ideals, which in fact dovetail with Jesuit values,” Connell says. “Students will be encouraged to build their capacity as individuals, always with an eye to how this positively affects their fellow citizens to the greater glory of God.”
The Jesuits first traveled to Africa in the 16th century under the direction of the religious order’s founder, St. Ignatius Loyola. The Society of Jesus in Eastern Africa was formally established in 1986, but Jesuits had been working there much earlier. In 1976, the Jesuits arrived in Dodoma – one of the five poorest regions of Tanzania according to the World Bank. There they established a parish and eventually opened Saint Ignatius Primary School, an English medium school.
About 250 miles east of Dodoma, the Jesuits had established Loyola High School in the coastal city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. Recognizing the success of this school, the government of Tanzania deeded the Jesuits more than 550 acres in the capital city of Dodoma to build a secondary school.
The need for a secondary school is high. When the founding family members of the Our Lady Queen of Peace Foundation of Canada and the United States visited the region, they were shocked to discover that only 1 in 4 primary school graduates had the opportunity to enroll in a high school. Seeing the need, the foundation partnered with the Eastern Africa Province of the Society of Jesus to establish the Our Lady Queen of Peace Educational Centre, which broke ground in 2009. The facility not only includes St. Peter Claver High School, but also a two-year trade school and a teacher-training institute.
About Fr. Martin Connell, SJ
Fr. Martin Connell, SJ, a member of the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Jesuits, is the headmaster of St. Peter Claver High School and Our Lady Queen of Peace Educational Centre in Dodoma, Tanzania, and provincial assistant for education of the Eastern Africa Province of the Jesuits. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Connell entered the Society of Jesus in 1981 and was ordained in 1994. He served as principal at University of Detroit Jesuit High School and then completed a PhD in education at the University of California Santa Barbara, focusing on teacher education and development. He was serving in the education department at Loyola Marymount University before being assigned in March 2009 to serve in Dodoma, Tanzania.
Fr. Connell will visit the following cities during his stay:
- Detroit – February 26
- Toledo, Ohio – February 27 – March 1
- Cleveland – March 2-4
- New York City (upper east side) – March 4-7
- Chicago – March 8-10
- Los Angeles – March 11-12, 14-15
- Santa Barbara, Calif. – March 13 (afternoon)
- Toledo – March 16
- Toronto – March 17
The Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
The Society of Jesus, also known as Jesuits is a religious order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church. For more than 460 years, the Jesuits have served in the spirit of St. Ignatius Loyola, who founded the order in 1540. Jesuits serve throughout the United States and the World in educational institutions, parishes, retreat centers, social justice ministries, international ministries, and intellectual apostolates. The more than 500 Midwest Jesuits serve in 66 ministries in 12 states from the Great Lakes to the Great Plains. To learn more please visit www.jesuits-chgdet.org and www.jesuitpartners.org.
Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
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