"While I've only been here a little more than a month, I've quickly come to discover how close this community is," said Father Chris Calderon, S.J. about adapting to his new role as a graduate intern with the School Administration at Malden Catholic.
"MC is filled with caring, dedicated people who are focused on building up the community, forming students to be able to do awesome things, and are constantly discerning God's call," said Fr. Chris. "And, it's all grounded in a Xaverian mission that is clearly evident and thriving.
"How cool to be able to be a witness to all of this."
Fr. Chris, a Ph.D. candidate in education at Harvard University, began an internship with Malden Catholic in late January. Calling his 24th year of school "one of the best in my life as a student," due to his professors, classmates, course content, and opportunities, Fr. Chris says he is excited to be back working in a high school.
For the past 19 years, Fr. Chris has worked at all levels of Catholic Education from grade school through university, and while he says there are great opportunities for connection at all levels, high school is the "most fun" for him.
"The students are old enough to engage in thoughtful reflection and still have a fun spirit about them," said Fr. Chris. "You can watch and participate in their formation, which can transform them in ways that fill me with hope.
"In the high school setting you can also get to know the families of students, which offers a whole other level of connection," said Fr. Chris. "I struggle to connect with the younger kids in a grade school setting, and in a college setting because of size and engagement dynamics, you usually can only connect with a select few.
"But at the high school level, you can be a part of the whole community in so many different fun and exciting ways."
Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA into a close-knit family, Fr. Chris has three younger brothers and a 7-year old niece whom he calls "adorable." His mother works for USC and his father is a retired police lieutenant. While his Jesuit vocation has called him to live away from California for the past 10 years, when he is visiting home, Fr. Chris says he loves to cook meals that bring everyone together.
And bringing people together is one of the many things that initially piqued Fr. Chris's interest in the ministry of priesthood.
"I started altar serving the Monday after my First Communion in 2nd grade, and while I had always casually wondered about the priesthood, it wasn't until I attended a Jesuit high school in LA that I seriously considered the life.
"I was lucky to have 11 Jesuits - from those in training with a handful of years under their belt, to priests who had been Jesuits for over 60 years - working in my school," said Fr. Chris. "In addition to being great teachers, campus ministers, and school leaders, it was noticing how much fun they had and the joy with which they lived their lives that really caught my attention.
"That, coupled with powerful service and prayer experiences facilitated by my high school, would lead me to desire more of the same. I attended the University of San Francisco where the call only deepened. I joined the Jesuits soon after graduating college," said Fr. Chris of his journey; a journey that he hopes will one day land him in a school like Malden Catholic.
"I hope to serve not only a particular high school, but the Church as a whole as a school leader because there is so much potential for connection, collaboration, and impact as a leader." Adds Fr. Chris, "I am hopeful that I can encourage innovative thinking and action for the sake of living out the Gospel on our campuses and in our communities, in particular with regard to diversity, access, and inclusion."
It was Fr. Chris's goals that led him to Malden Catholic. After working with a nonprofit organization for his internship last year, Fr. Chris realized how much he missed working with Catholic education. "In exploring the Catholic options for my spring internship this year, Malden Catholic appeared," said Fr. Chris.
One of the first features of Malden Catholic that stood out to Fr. Chris was its exciting codivisional future. "Visiting the school and learning about what is taking place here with the development of the codivisional model, as well as experiencing the spirit and mission of the school, I was filled with excitement at the prospect of learning from and being a part of MC," said Fr. Chris.
"For my next mission, I will likely be working to open a middle school on the campus of one of our Jesuit high schools," said Fr. Chris. "So, with this in mind, Malden Catholic seemed to be the perfect place to observe and serve."
Fr. Chris's internship isn't his first experience with Malden Catholic though. An alum of Boston College's School of Theology and Ministry, Fr. Chris works as Chaplain with Boston College's baseball team – a role where he meets with Malden Catholic alum Austin Batchelor '15 on a weekly basis.
"Every time I see him, he asks me how things are here at Malden Catholic," said Fr. Chris. "He wants to know what's going on, how people are doing, and if I'm loving my time here in the school.
"I mention this because Austin exemplifies the lasting impact that the MC community can have on young men, and soon young women," said Fr. Chris, adding "he, like so many others I'm sure, cares about this place deeply and hopes others will fall in love with it too.
"It just further affirms how special Malden Catholic is to so many."
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