(This article first appeared in the Belen Jesuit President's Report, 2019-20 edition)
With much excitement, the ‘For the Greater Glory” campaign was announced at the 2019 Annual Gala. The silent phase of the capital campaign was launched in 2017, at the start of Father Willie’s tenure as president. Announcing the public phase signaled the campaign had reached a milestone of over $27 million of the $34 million goal proposed.
At the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, a major construction project was completed. Built on the grounds of the old pool, the Arroyo Quad was blessed on November 26, 2019. It is dedicated to the Jesuits who served at Belen Jesuit and have since passed away. The Arroyo Quad is named in memory of Father Felipe Arroyo, S.J. who taught at the Colegio de Belén in Havana from 1944-1947 and worked there again from 1954-1961 as a spiritual counselor and as principal. In 1961, he came to Miami to help establish Belen Jesuit but left for another assignment until his return in 1971, where he served as both president and principal (1972-1974; 1978- 1980) and as president (1974-1978).
“This evening, we gather to inaugurate this beautiful park whose purpose is to recognize those courageous men who ventured far and worked hard to assure that tyranny would not have the last word and that Ignatian education would flourish,” said Father Willie '87 during the blessing ceremony. “This park is a testament to what can be accomplished when you roll up your sleeves and stay the course knowing that you
are fulfilling your obligation to God and His Church.”
Other projects that were completed during the academic year included the installation of field lights for football and baseball. “The first Friday night game was a historic event for Belen, and being able to be part of the first team to play under the lights was amazing,” said Breton Rice ‘20, who opened the football game with a field goal early in the first quarter on September 6, 2019.
The renovation of the Science Pavilion patio was also completed. The area features a statue of Mateo Ricci, S.J. who broke through the barriers of skepticism and fear, and pioneered the promotion of faith and science. The patio was renamed, Fides et Ratio, which is taken from the encyclical of St. John Paul II and translated to mean, Faith and Reason.
On the heels of the Arroyo Quad being completed, construction began on the Roberto C. Goizueta Innovation Center and concluded in the fall. The 8,000 square foot space is the home of the STEAM program and will offer a place of creativity for our students. Three engineering classes are taking place there, including the new Engineering Design and Development class. In addition to the academic opportunities created by the Innovation Center, students are also able to experience expanded extracurricular activities, as well as provide a home base for the robotics team.
Additional projects begun during the pandemic and completed in summer include the installation of a new floor on the first floor of the main school building, as well as the renovation of four classrooms to a new modern design including new furniture. All the projects occurred concurrently with the construction of the Our Lady of Belen Chapel. The chapel is anticipated to be completed before the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Fulfilling other pillars as laid out by the Strategic Plan, the administration continues to hire qualified faculty and to provide professional development throughout the year. The creation of the Diversity Advisory Panel led to a wonderful speaker series throughout Black History Month in February of 2020. The group went on to lead a prayer vigil for social justice in the summer. The administration also launched the St. Peter Claver Outreach Program to promote and reinforce the school’s diversity. This program helps to ensure that our
school population is more reflective of the community we live in, both socioeconomically and racially.
On January 15, 2020 alumnus Julio Minsal-Ruiz, S.J. ‘05 was ordained to the priesthood. Father Minsal-Ruiz, S.J. continues his work at the school as a philosophy teacher. Three other alumni remain in the formation process, Br. Mike Martínez ‘09, Eric Couto ‘13, and Pablo Velásquez ‘12. In addition to vocations, an emphasis on enhancing the retreat experience and community service is helping form men of Christian values and conviction.
Enhancing the brotherhood has meant increasing communication methods both on social media and on the
BConnected platform. Also, the Beyond Belen project launched in January 2020 helped to connect seniors with mentors in the industry they are interested in pursuing. Innovative ideas such as the Belen AVE series led the way for virtual interaction during the pandemic and provided essential information to alumni.
These projects wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for the generosity of many people. We continue to strive for greatness and need your help to achieve our goals. Every gift received helps us to fulfill the challenges set forth in the Strategic Plan - Strengthening our Catholic-Jesuit Identity, Academic Excellence, Forming Well-Rounded Men, and Enhancing our Brotherhood. If you would like to make a gift towards the "For the Greater Glory' campaign and contribute to the vision of the school, please contact the Executive Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations Phil Fernández ’94 at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (305) 804-7683.