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175 Years of Service to New York, the Church, and the Nation

Since 1847, the story of Xavier has been deeply intertwined with the story of New York City. Generations of Xavier men, drawn from every corner of the city and far beyond, equipped and transformed by a Jesuit education, have gone forth to serve and transform New York, the Church, the nation, and the world.

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  • 1848

On Saturday evening, January 22, the church housing The School of the Holy Name of Jesus is destroyed in a fire. The next day, Fr. Larkin refuses to close the school, telling his Jesuit superior, “The professors will teach their classes tomorrow, and the Fathers attend to their confessionals as usual.” Classes are relocated to the basement of St. James Church on St. James Street.

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  • 1850

The Jesuits buy 10 lots of land on 15th and 16th Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. A new school is built and at the request of Archbishop John Hughes, it is named after St. Francis Xavier. Students and faculty move in around Thanksgiving.

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Xavier Remembers its Gold Star Sons
  • 1945

On March 9, a special Gold Star issue of The Review honors Xavier’s war dead. Four days later, a solemn military Mass attended by students, faculty, relatives, and friends of the fallen is held in the Church of St. Francis Xavier. “They died in the service of their country,” The Review reported. “It cost them much to tramp through battlefield mud, sail through mine-infested seas, soar past anti-aircraft fire, but unflinchingly they obeyed because duty knows no compromise. For them it meant death that others might live.”

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American Catholics Rise to Power
  • 1960

In December, after the election of John F. Kennedy, the nation’s first Catholic president, theologian John Courtney Murray, S.J. 1920 is featured on the cover of Time under the headline “U.S. Catholics and the State.” The magazine notes his contributions to American domestic and foreign policy debates and his keen understanding of religion in American public life.

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Pedro Arrupe Visits on Xavier's 125th Anniversary
  • 1972

Eight months before giving his landmark “Men for Others” address in Valencia, Spain, Pedro Arrupe, S.J., then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, visited Xavier to celebrate its 125th anniversary.

Before a Thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Terence Cardinal Cooke on November 12, 1972, members of the Regiment formed an honor guard as various dignitaries, including Fr. Arrupe, processed in the Church of St. Francis Xavier. The Review reported that Fr. Arrupe “grinned and said that when he saw the Regiment he felt for the first time in his life that he was really a general.” 

The Xavier Hall of Fame is founded with an event in the gym on October 28. Fr. Paul Cassidy, S.J. serves as master of ceremonies as 66 members are inducted.

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Donald Cook Awarded Posthumous Medal of Honor
  • 1980

On February 26, Colonel Donald Cook, USMC ’52 is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while interned as a Prisoner of War by the Viet Cong in the Republic of Vietnam.” The medal is presented to his family by Secretary of the Navy Edward Hidalgo ’29. At that year’s Commencement, held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on June 5, Secretary Hidalgo addresses the graduates and salutes Colonel Cook.

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New York Attacked on 9/11; Xavier Suffers Heavy Losses
  • 2001

Ten Sons of Xavier—John Ryan ’74, Edmund McNally ’78, Christopher Hanley ’84, Michael Andrews ’85, John Farrell ’87, Jimmy Riches ’89, Matthew Burke ’91, Sean Lugano ’91, James Coyle ’93, and Charlie Heeran ’96—and dozens of family members and friends perish during the September 11 terrorist attacks. A New York Times cover story about Xavier's grief and resilience notes that 1,500 people packed the Church of St. Francis Xavier to remember the dead in late September: "A police officer outside, a Xavier alumnus, closed the street to traffic. Then, with a megaphone, he led the crowd in a chorus of the school's fight song: 'Maroon and blue, we'll see you through.'"

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Superstorm Sandy Hits New York
  • 2012

Superstorm Sandy devastates the Tri-State area, deeply affecting many families. Hundreds of Xavier students volunteer to help clean up the neighborhoods most impacted by the storm. Xavier’s varsity football team—with 11 players who had to evacuate their homes after Sandy—wins the city championship, earning national attention and an ESPN spotlight. “You’re New York’s team,” head coach Chris Stevens ’83 tells his players, “the feel-good story of Sandy.”

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Fernandez-Duminuco Hall Opens
  • 2016

Fernandez-Duminuco Hall, a six-story, 33,000-sq. ft. addition to Xavier, is dedicated in September. It features a state-of-the-art music suite, a multipurpose performance space, and a robotics lab. It is named in honor of Mike Fernandez ’72, the principal donor, and the Xavier headmaster who influenced his life, the late Vincent Duminuco, S.J.

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COVID-19 Descends on New York City
  • 2020

On March 12, as COVID-19 descends on New York City, Xavier announces its transition to remote instruction to help stop the spread of the pandemic. One month later, on Easter Sunday, New York surpasses 10,000 COVID-19 deaths.

In September, students return to campus in a hybrid model, with roughly 40% of the student body on 16th Street each day and the others attending classes virtually.

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