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ACE Visits Tucson, AZ

(April 28-30)

 ACE in the Community

Teachers from the Alliance for Catholic Education first became part of the Tucson community in 2001 and seven are now teaching in the city's schools. Nine years later, Bishop Gerald Kicanas and the University of Notre Dame designated St. John the Evangelist Catholic School and Santa Cruz Catholic School as the first sites for the innovative Notre Dame ACE Academies model of comprehensive university-school partnership. ACE Teaching Fellows continues its partnerships with Saints Peter and Paul School and San Xavier Mission School, as well.

Three Tucson schools are part of the new Notre Dame ACE Academies initiative, an innovative university-school partnership focused on providing a Catholic education of the highest quality to as many students as possible. Students in our Tucson schools are closing the achievement gap.  ACE Academies have experienced enrollment increases as large as 91 percent, and growth in scholarship assistance has benefited numerous students.

Transformation in these once-struggling schools truly emerged from a community effort. In partnership with the schools’ teachers and diocesan leaders, ACE has developed a new model focused on academic achievement and access to schools. Capitalizing on the Arizona tax credit scholarship program, we have helped many hundreds of families access millions in scholarship funds to attend these schools.

Since 2001, some 29 ACErs have served in Tucson while pursuing Notre Dame graduate degrees. Currently, there are six Remick Leaders serving as principals and leaders in local Catholic schools, including all three of the Tucson ACE Academies.

Where We’ll Be

Monday, April 28

9:30 a.m. PST — School visit at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School

600 W Ajo Way, Tucson, AZ 85713


300 S. Tucson Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85716 

Wednesday, April 30

8:00 a.m. PST School visit and Mass at Santa Cruz Catholic School

29 W 22nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85713 Main entrance off of 23rd Street


Event Point of Contact: Andrea Cisneros, , and Patrick Graff,

Award Recipients

About the Awards

The University of Notre Dame Sorin Award for Service to Catholic Schools

Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., has wholly devoted her life to the service of God’s children through Catholic schools. For more than 50 years, her commitment to Catholic education has transformed the schools and communities where she serves. In her 14 years as superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Tucson, a position from which she will retire this year, Sr. Rosa Maria adjusted teacher salary scales to reflect a just wage, initiated a Catholic school endowment program, spearheaded school building and renovation projects, and oversaw the opening of three high schools and an elementary school. Her extraordinary support and collaboration laid the groundwork for success in the local initiatives of the Alliance for Catholic Education.

Moreover, Sr. Rosa Maria is an exemplary pastoral leader for her schools. Her annual visits to each school are a highlight for students and teachers alike, and her unwavering focus on helping children — a mission she declared to her parents as a 15-year-old — inspires Catholic educators throughout the diocese.

The University of Notre Dame Champion for Education Award

Richard Brady “Buck” O'Rielly has enriched Tucson’s future through ardent philanthropic leadership in various organizations, including Junior Achievement, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, United Way, and the Southern Arizona Water Resource Association. With Tucson roots going back seven generations, O’Rielly actively seeks out and thoughtfully develops new leaders for his hometown through his civic engagement and support for Catholic education in the Diocese of Tucson. He played a crucial role in establishing St. Augustine High School, and he generously contributes time and talent as a member of its board of directors. Buck O’Rielly’s personal motto, “Persistence pays,” has guided the high school’s  formation and growth.

He is the CEO of O’Rielly Motor Company, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. The company supports San Miguel Cristo Rey High School through corporate work placements for students. Before joining the company his father started, he flew 50 combat missions in the Korean War and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

ACE Media Point of Contact: Bill Schmitt  -