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Verbum Dei Jesuit High School

Founded in 1962, Verbum Dei High School originally aimed to serve the predominantly Black community of Watts under the leadership of the Divine Word Missionaries. Fr. Joseph Francis, SVD, served as its inaugural principal, marking a historic milestone as the first Black principal of a Catholic school in the United States. Fr. Francis later became Bishop Francis, the fourth Black Catholic bishop in the country.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Verbum Dei experienced notable success, particularly in athletics, producing numerous professional athletes and winning multiple national championships. However, the school faced challenges in the 1990s, with declining enrollment and financial instability threatening its future.

In 2000, responding to these challenges, the Society of Jesus was invited to assume leadership. By 2002, Verbum Dei transitioned to a Cristo Rey school, adopting the innovative corporate work-study model. This transformation revitalized the school's mission, blending rigorous Jesuit academic traditions with practical work experience, thereby preparing students for both academic excellence and professional success.

In 2022, the school officially changed its name to Verbum Dei Jesuit High School, symbolizing its independent status and ongoing commitment to educational excellence and community service. Today, Verbum Dei Jesuit continues to thrive, nurturing a new generation of leaders dedicated to making the world a better place.

"We're not just a Jesuit high school plopped in the middle of Watts."

Verbum Dei Jesuit High School was featured in America Magazine's Jesuit School Spotlight series. 

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