By Karen Mahoney
Special to Your Catholic Herald
MILWAUKEE – A glimpse of hope and pledged investments of money has given Marquette University High School the backing to continue its mission to provide quality education and Catholic formation.
A three-part campaign includes a $5 million mission endowment, a scholarship endowment, major construction and a $14 million major renovation project. The construction includes the new Three Holy Companions Chapel, fine arts center and improvement to the O’Rourke Performing Arts Hall, additions and renovations to the science department classrooms, new and improved athletic facilities, administrative offices, conference center and classroom air conditioning.
This project, which began four years ago, was funded entirely through donations under the school’s “Continue the Mission” campaign which raised $22 million and leaves MUHS with no debt.
For Dan Quesnell, MUHS director of planning and community relations, the response has been positive.
“Parents, staff and students have recognized the benefits of this campaign,” he said. “We expect that opening the Three Holy Companions Chapel will breathe life into the school and bring Christ closer to our hearts.”
School officials named the chapel Three Holy Companions in honor of St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Peter Favre. University colleagues, these three men became the nucleus of the Society of Jesus, just as the chapel will serve the core of the Marquette community.
Adding six classrooms to the school helped bring class averages into a more manageable size, reducing numbers from 24 students per class to 20 per class. Funds within the mission endowment provided for additional teachers which brought the student-teacher ratio to the level desired by the school.
According to Quesnell, most of the academic facilities were modernized over the past 10 years, with exception of the arts classrooms, chemistry rooms, athletic spaces and the air-conditioning of half the academic building.
“In order to facilitate the highest level of teaching and learning, we felt compelled to address these needs at this time,” he said. “This entailed demolishing the former Jesuit residence building, which housed our student chapel. Through this, we have taken the opportunity to put our mission at the front door by constructing the Three Holy Companions Chapel at our main entrance.”
By following the same principles for solid Catholic education today as it did when MUHS opened 151 years ago, Quesnell anticipates the renovated school will appeal to the next generation of scholars, future priests and Catholics.
“This project reinforces our Catholic, Jesuit, urban, college preparatory mission by providing a marvelous worship space, state-of-the-art academic facilities, and a commitment to our urban neighborhood,” he explained.
As a part of Milwaukee’s west side, MUHS is a partner and anchor among its urban neighbors. Renovations updated the entire southern façade to include two new buildings, and improved the aesthetics along Michigan Avenue. School officials are equally proud of their active partnership with the Merrill Park Neighborhood, where they collaborate on home rehabilitations, and are involved in the revitalization of Wisconsin Avenue as well as developments as part of the SOHI District (27th Street).
“Inwardly, we are better able to host neighborhood meetings in our conference center and we are currently investigating ways in which the Three Holy Companions Chapel might be of service to our neighbors,” said Quesnell.
For Quesnell, the greatest promise for the school’s future is the strong student body, supportive alumni and friends of Marquette University High School.
“The ‘Continue the Mission’ campaign looks into the future of Catholic, Jesuit, urban, college-preparatory education at Marquette University High School with faith that the need for Catholic education in Milwaukee will remain strong,” he said. “We believe that this initiative positions us to play an active role in the strong future of Catholic education in Milwaukee.”