The Gesu parish had been a cornerstone of the Philadelphia community since the late 1800s. At its peak, the Church of the Gesu was home to twenty thousand parishioners living in the neighborhoods of North Philadelphia. Over the next several decades, the city experienced significant financial hardship and urban deterioration. By the late 1980s, the Gesu parish was struggling to support itself and was ultimately forced to close its doors in 1993.
At the time of the parish closing, the Archdiocese requested that the Jesuits and the IHM sisters keep Gesu School open — not as a parish-supported institution, but as an independent school. Gesu became Philadelphia’s first Catholic school of its kind, blazing the way for the Catholic mission schools that would follow 20 years later.
Thanks to the efforts and the contributions of many hard-working leaders, educators, and volunteers, Gesu School has not only survived — it has succeeded in becoming a national model for inner-city schooling. Throughout the 2013–2014 school year, we celebrated our 20th anniversary in tribute to our successful past and anticipation of our promising future.