Father Hollowell read from Matthew, Chapter 14 where Jesus fed a crowd of over 5,000 with just five loaves and two fish. In his homily, he encouraged the student athletes to "give everything you have and trust that God will do something more with it than you could have ever imagined. In doing that now, in giving everything you can, you have the opportunity to learn a lesson - the lesson that God doesn't just do this with fishes and loaves, he doesn't just do it with athletic teams - he does it in everything in our life. That is why this school devotes resources to athletics, it is why coaches coach and offer their time. They do it so that you will learn the lesson of the loaves and the fish." This group of students and the 100 or so parents and coaches in attendance continues to give their loaves and fish to continue the proud tradition of Cardinal Ritter High School through Faith, Academics, the Arts, Culture, and Athletics.
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At the conclusion of mass, these students were dispatched to their sports practices where they will represent the Cardinal Ritter Community in contests throughout the fall. Students at Catholic High Schools all across the country participate in similar masses, but what may catch you off-guard at a Cardinal Ritter celebration is the way this congregation represents the real world. One of the football players stands tall at well over 7 feet. The cheerleading squad may average 5'2". And there are students from every race and background. Not just one or two, the Cardinal Ritter High School student body is made up of 37% minorities. It's the most ethnically diverse Catholic High School in the state of Indiana according to figures provided by the Indiana Department of Education.
A Leader in Civil Rights
It's appropriate that this school carry the name of Cardinal Joseph Elmer Ritter, who, after being appointed Bishop of Indianapolis in 1934, ordered the end of racial segregation in all Catholic schools in the Diocese just 4 years later. This order came 16 years before Brown vs. Board of Education. After becoming the first Archbishop of Indianapolis, Cardinal Ritter moved on to St. Louis in 1946, where he ended racial segregation in Catholic Schools in the St. Louis Diocese as well. After threats of legal action from some in Missouri who said that the desegregation order violated the state's existing laws, Cardinal Ritter threatened to excommunicate any Catholic who tried to stop the segregation through legal action. Cardinal Ritter believed that "the cross on top of our schools must mean something," and in "the equality of every soul before Almighty God." The spirit of Cardinal Ritter can be felt in the halls of the school that bear his name. That spirit reaches into the office of the new President of Cardinal Ritter High School, Greg Perkins. "We work hard and diligently each day to live out the principles of his life and are proud to carry on the work of this dedicated servant of our Church."
Since it was established in 1964, Cardinal Ritter High School has served the west side of Indianapolis by providing a quality educational and spiritual experience to its students. In 2008, service to the west side expanded to include the new "Rittertown" initiative. Through "Rittertown", Cardinal Ritter High School expanded its Service Learning Program beyond the campus boundaries and into the community surrounding the school. The entire Cardinal Ritter High School family came together with the Mayor of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Colts, and the City of Indianapolis' Peace in the Streets - Stop the Violence campaign. The idea of "Rittertown" is to make this community a better place for its residents to live and to elevate the legacy of Cardinal Joseph Ritter to its proper place. The students help to make this a reality with service projects in the community, including beautification projects in area parks, visits with the elderly at local nursing homes, and English as a Second Language classes for adults in the area. "Rittertown" helps to continue to elevate the legacy of Cardinal Joseph Ritter in the city of Indianapolis
Principal E. Jo Hoy is very proud of what's recently been called a "renaissance" at Cardinal Ritter High School. In her 12 years as principal, enrollment at Cardinal Ritter has risen from 380 students to nearly 600 students. Mrs. Hoy is proud of her Hispanic heritage and helped start a program of Everyday Spanish for police officers, teachers and other public workers with Marian University in Indianapolis, where she also teaches classes. In 2009, she was honored with the Catholic Secondary Education Award from the NCEA Department of Secondary Schools.
In its 46 year history, Cardinal Ritter High School has prepared hundreds of students for life. Dr. Patricia Treadwell graduated in Cardinal Ritter's second graduating class in 1969. In a time when few African-American females were choosing medical school, Dr. Treadwell now works in the IU School of Medicine as Professor of Pediatrics.
Christopher Michael ('78) is a successful actor, director, and writer in Hollywood who currently stars in "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" on ABC Family and will forever be seen in re-runs as Chief Michaels in the long-running family drama "7th Heaven."
Cardinal Ritter Raider football fans will be cheering extra hard at Indianapolis Colts pre-season games this season. Devin Moore ('04) would love to take hand-offs from Peyton Manning as a Running Back for the Colts this season. He signed a Free Agent contract in February after playing for the Seattle Seahawks in 2009. He graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in business administration and completed his illustrious Cowboy football career as the school's all-time leading rusher.
After graduating from Cardinal Ritter in 1997, Dr. Aaron Anderson went on to receive a B.S. in Biology at Xavier University, an M.D. at Indiana University School of Medicine, and completed his Neurology residency in 2009 at UAB. He now practices Neurology in Birmingham, Alabama.
Addison Simpson ('69) has worked for the State of Indiana for 25 years and in the past has served as Executive Assistant to Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon, Deputy Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Administration, and Chairperson of the Indiana Black Expo Business Conference. Mr. Simpson was given the Archdiocese of Indianapolis Career Achievement Award, and was also named Sagamore of the Wabash by former Governor Frank O'Bannon and Martin University's Alumni of the Year. Cardinal Ritter High School's African-American alumni, under the advisement of Addison Simpson, have formed an Alumni Ambassador group that has set its sites on fellowship with other alumni, scholarships for needy students, and other community-building activities.
A Bright Future
Through the dedication of its President, Greg Perkins, Principal Jo Hoy, an exemplary staff and a growing number of current students and proud alumni, Cardinal Ritter High School is devoted to help all young people reach their potential academically, spiritually, socially, and physically regardless of their race, ethnicity, or background. Following the examples in Matthew's Gospel, the Cardinal Ritter High School Family will continue to give all of our loaves and all of our fish in His service.
Vicki Murphy was just named as the new Communications Coordinator at Cardinal Ritter High School in July. She had spent the last 17 years as an on-air personality and Program Director at WFMS 95.5 radio in Indianapolis until she left for a more spiritually rewarding opportunity at Cardinal Ritter. Vicki and her husband Eric are members of St. Christopher Parish and are the proud parents of two future Ritter Raiders, Julia (8) and Becca (6).