As Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School celebrates the 20th anniversary of its founding, they are looking toward the future.

The school will launch a $5 million capital campaign to build a science center, Sister Mary Murphy, the school founder and president emerita, told MethuenLife before the anniversary Mass with Cardinal Sean O’Malley on March 14.

“We want to continue offering the best education possible to our students guided by our values,” Sister Mary said.

It will be named after Sister Dorothy Stang, a Sister of Notre Dame nun killed in Brazil in 2005.

O’Malley is no stranger to the school as he celebrated the inaugural liturgy when the school opened in 2004 at the former St. Mary High School in Lawrence and again in 2014 when Notre Dame Cristo Rey had its 10th anniversary.

In 2020, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School moved to Methuen. The Sisters of Notre Dame, who sponsor the school, purchased five buildings on the Searles Estate at 203 Lawrence St., from the Presentation of Mary sisters, who had staffed Presentation of Mary Academy high school on the site for 60 years.

In his homily, O’Malley spoke of the importance of educating children of immigrants.

“We are so grateful to the Sisters of Notre Dame because what we have here is so unique,” the Cardinal said. “That is exactly what Notre Dame Cristo Rey does.”

Ninety-nine percent of the students at Notre Dame Cristo Rey are children of immigrants, said Principal Anthony Zavagnin.

“We’re all part of God’s family and are here for them,” said Zavagnin, who has served as principal here for eight years.

While most of the students are from the Dominican Republic, others come from Central America, Egypt and Turkey.

In addition to a rigorous education, Notre Dame Cristo Rey is enhanced by its work study program with students working at local banks, law firms, pharmaceutical companies, etc. Each student earns $8,125 toward their tuition.

Nevins Library and Nevins Rehabilitation Center are among those corporate work study partners in Methuen.

When Jose Rodriguez and his wife Zoila Rodriguez of Methuen were considering high school for their daughter Natalie, they were sold on Notre Dame due to its quality of education and teaching staff.

“They are proponents of moral, religious and family values and have a deep commitment in preparing students to go to college,” Jose Rodriguez said.

Natalie Rodriguez said she loves the work study program.

“It helps me gain a better understanding of what work is and I can have that work experience on my resume,” said Natalie, a junior at the school.

After the Mass, O’Malley answered questions from students.

The Rodriguez family of Methuen poses with Cardinal Sean O’Malley after the Mass celebrating Notre Dame Cristo Rey’s 20th anniversary. They are (from left) Jose Rodriguez, daughter Natalie who is a junior at the school and Zoila Rodriguez. MethuenLife photos by Yadira Betances Muldoon

Sister Mary Murphy (lef). founder of Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School and president emerita, is shown with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Sister Maryalyce Gilfeather who is the school’s president and Principal Anthony Zavagnin

Cardinal Sean OMalley speaks with Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School students after Mass.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley speaks with Chris Pham, a junior.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley gives the final blessing at Mass celebrating Notre Dame Cristo Rey’s 20th anniversary. Altar servers were Chris Pham, Angel Machuca, Serenity Sierra and (not shown) Mia Ortiz.