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This Man Will Lead Northwest Side's New Pope Francis Global Academy

By Heather Cherone | January 11, 2016 5:25am
 Terrence O’Rourke will lead the first Chicago school named for the pontiff.
Terrence O’Rourke will lead the first Chicago school named for the pontiff.
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Archidocese of Chicago

GLADSTONE PARK — The principal of a suburban Catholic school will lead the newly created regional academy that will merge the schools of four Far Northwest Side Catholic churches, officials with the Archdiocese of Chicago said Friday.

Terrence O'Rourke, the principal of St. Albert The Great in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, will be the head of Pope Francis Global Academy, according to a statement from Archdiocese of Chicago Schools Supt. Jim Rigg.

"We are confident in [O'Rourke's] ability to lead Pope Francis Global Academy as it becomes one of the top academic centers of excellence in the Archdiocese of Chicago," Rigg said.

St. Cornelius, Our Lady of Victory, St. Pascal and St. Tarcissus schools will be consolidated into one school — with two campuses at St. Pascal in Portage Park and St. Tarcissus in Gladstone Park. The new school will open in the fall.

Rigg praised O'Rourke for increasing enrollment at the Burbank school by 53 percent since he took over the school in 2013, its highest level in seven years.

In addition, Rigg praised O'Rourke for overseeing an expansion of the school's library as well as renovations of the school's early childhood classrooms and computer lab. O'Rourke also spearheaded an effort to incorporate wireless capability throughout the school and launched a campaign to rebrand the school, Rigg said.

Before taking over St. Albert, O'Rourke taught English and coached track, wrestling and soccer at Fenwick High School in Oak Park. He also served as dean of students and assistant principal of curriculum and instruction.

In his statement, Rigg thanked the four principals of St. Cornelius, Our Lady of Victory, St. Pascal and St. Tarcissus for their "hard work and dedication" over the past year when the new school was taking shape.

The positions of deputy principal, director of advancement and enrollment and director of business operations are expected to be filled shortly, Rigg said.

Each of the school's campuses will offer preschool through eighth grade. Its curriculum will focus on global studies in an effort to help students "develop into critical, analytical and creative 21st Century thinkers and problem solvers in a faith-filled environment," officials said.

Current teachers at the four schools "will have priority in interviewing for positions," officials said.

O'Rourke will greet prospective parents and students during an open house event scheduled for the afternoon of Jan. 31 at both campuses, Rigg said.

Archbishop Blase Cupich has said the merger is needed to preserve Catholic education at a time of declining enrollment and massive budget deficits and ensure its future is "sustainable."

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