The History of Hales Franciscan High School
The year was 1946 and World War II was over. Members of the armed forces were coming home to build new lives and return to jobs.
New housing sprouted nationwide. Schools began filling as families formed and grew.
In Chicago, one such school was Corpus ChristiHigh School. It had no new facilities like some other schools. Instead, it lodged in the former Mt.SinaiTemple at 46th and South Parkway, which later became King Drive.
But it had the commitment, traditions, beliefs, and direction of the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province.
The Franciscans are a group of religious men who follow the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi. Founded in the 13th Century, Franciscans dedicate their lives to poverty, chastity, obedience, and the good of their fellow man. St. Francis’ example included giving up everything, even the clothes he was wearing, to help others. His Feast Day is celebrated annually on October 4th.
This commitment to social justice and the needs of the poor was the keystone at Corpus Christi, the predecessor of Hales Franciscan High School.
Franciscan Priests and Brothers, Franciscan Sisters from Dubuque, and lay men and women staffed Corpus Christi, then a coeducational high school. It became an all-boys school in 1957, when the Sisters left. The “Archdiocese of Chicago Institutional History” lists its principals as Fathers Dennis Hall, Fabian Metz, Daniel O’Connell, and Alcuin Kirberg.
Plans for a new school had been in the works for ten years.
The land at 49th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue became available when the Sisters of Mercy moved St.Xavier College to a new location. The Archdiocese of Chicago made the land available to the Franciscans.
Following the close of Corpus ChristiHigh School, Hales Franciscan was established to carry on the mission of educating young, African-American males at a time when there were few opportunities for them to receive a quality, private education. Msgr. William McManus and Mayor Richard J. Daley laid the cornerstone on September 8, 1961. The new Hales Franciscan High School, named after Alexander of Hales, a Franciscan scholar in the Middle Ages, opened to young men in 1962. In 2013, Hales Franciscan opened it’s doors to female students and now operates as a coeducational institute.
Since its founding, Hales Franciscan High School has celebrated African-American heritage and endeavored to instill cultural pride. Hales is an independent Catholic school dedicated to the Franciscan tradition of providing quality, value-centered education to students to develop the academic, personal, moral, and social skills needed to be confident leaders in the community. It is committed to offering a rigorous academic curriculum, a competitive athletic program, religious education, and pastoral, personal and college counseling.