On Aug. 18 at 5 a.m., Jesuit Brother Matt Wooters was to enter Lake Michigan near Loyola University Chicago and swim 8 miles to Navy Pier to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, 1852 W. 22nd Place, and to raise $25,000 for the school. Cristo Rey was the first school in what has become the national Cristo Rey Network. Its schools operate on a unique model in which students receive a college-preparatory education and spend five eight-hour days a month working at local corporations gaining valuable work experience and earning about 60 percent of their tuition. Wooters, 34, has served on the school’s board for six years and as of Aug. 17 had raised over $27,000 for the school. Wooters started swimming when he was 5 years old and competed on swim teams until he entered college. He started swimming again during the pandemic. In May, he got the idea to do a long swim to raise money for Cristo Rey’s anniversary. “I pitched this idea to [the school] and they thought I was nuts,” Wooters said. “I like that the swim models the pipeline of success for Cristo Rey grads from higher ed to downtown, from Loyola to Navy Pier.” Cristo Rey schools often have 100% of their graduating seniors going on to college. He deliberately set his course, the length of which qualifies as a marathon for swimming. Principal Lucas Schroder confirmed that he questioned Wooters’ sanity upon learning of Wooters’ plan. “I thought he was crazy, but it didn’t shock me, let’s put it that way,” Schroder joked. “I said, ‘Well, at least that makes sense for him, but I still think he’s nuts.’” He said Wooters has been an asset to the school in his role on the board. “It’s really incredible to us that he’s willing to do this for us,” Schroder said. Wooters trained by swimming in the lake four times a week for about two hours at a time. He expected it to take between four and five hours to swim the 8 miles. A boat was to accompany him. Wooters is a native of Washington, D.C., and moved to Chicago in July. Trained as a therapist and having worked with migrant communities for many years, he now serves as a vocations promoter for the Midwest Jesuits. “God can use everything. When I joined the Jesuits I never thought swimming would be part of my life again,” he said. This endeavor has combined his passion for swimming and his passion for Jesuit life. “When I’m swimming, I’m praying for the students and I’m praying for an end to the migrant crisis,” he said. “I’m delighted to raise awareness of Cristo Rey.” In today’s world where companies are seeking to diversify their staff, the students are assets to the places they work. “The students have value. They’re not just the recipients of charity,” Wooters said. “Their experience is incredible and different from yours and mine.” To donate, visit www.cristorey.net/giving/event/makingwaves.