Accessibility: The 1970s to Now

By Nikki Pomer
“Did anyone panic?” I asked. “I don’t remember panicking, and I think it was because of Fr. Alchediak,” Mr. Hosty says. The situation brought the faculty and staff closer together. They all had great faith in being at Strake Jesuit, primarily due to Fr. Alchediak. He always had a calm nature, was always smiling, and showed no worry.
I recently sat down with retired veteran faculty member, Mr. John Hosty, and asked him about some key memories regarding how Strake Jesuit has provided accessibility to students over the years. Mr. Hosty taught Spanish for 50 years, from 1966-2016. Even after he retired, he returned as a substitute teacher until 2019. Before coming to Strake Jesuit, he spent some time in discernment with the Basilians, a Catholic religious order of priests, working with them in Mexico. He discerned out of the order and moved back to Houston, where his brother-in-law taught math at Strake Jesuit and was encouraged to apply. During his time here, he saw the early beginnings and growth of the school, including the infamous bankruptcy in the 1970s, which, as unlikely as it seemed at the time, was a catalyst for the beginnings of the school’s financial aid program.
Fr. Michael Kennelly, S.J., the founding president of Strake Jesuit, kept a close relationship with Frank Sharp, a well-known Houston businessman who made gifts to the school and publicly stated that Strake Jesuit would be one of the principal beneficiaries of his will. The resulting transactions proved to be destructive when the Frank Sharp Empire and Sharpstown State Bank collapsed in January 1971. Strake Jesuit was left with debts and claims of $6,000,000. Shortly prior to the financial collapse, Fr. Michael Alchediak, S.J., succeeded Fr. Kennelly as president of Strake Jesuit.
Frank Sharp hosted a formal dinner in Sharpstown about a week before the collapse. Mr. Hosty remembers dignitaries from Austin, television news crews, and members of the Strake Jesuit community attending the event. Fr. Alchediak spoke at the dinner about the relationship between Fr. Kennelly and Sharp, and both joked back and forth with each other. A week later, news headlines came out about the financial collapse.
Mr. Hosty recalls the faculty and staff meeting held the day news broke out. “I don’t know how we’re going to [handle] this; I don’t know if we can survive,” says Fr. Alchediak. Fr. Alchediak gave the faculty and staff the freedom to leave, especially since he was not sure if he would be able to pay them. All the faculty and staff stayed.
The Jesuit provincial at the time recommended that Fr. Alchediak accept the loss and close the school. Fr. Alchediak had other plans. He saw this as a challenge to see what he and the community could do to save the school, a place and mission they all believed in.
Regarding student life, Mr. Hosty says that it did not affect them at all. Students knew what was going on, but life went on as usual. Fr. Alchediak pulled everyone through. He put together the first board of directors and worked to raise money for the school. This eventually led to the creation of Spring Fling.
Spring Fling was intended to both raise money and to build community between Strake Jesuit families. All the parents, students, faculty, and staff came together to volunteer and work on different booths. The financial collapse of the school brought the community together, and Spring Fling aided in raising money to help get the school back up and running. If it were not for the faith and work of Fr. Alchediak and the community, the school would probably no longer exist.
Today, all the proceeds from Spring Fling go directly to financial aid. In Mr. Hosty’s early days at Strake Jesuit, he recalls young men from his parish, Notre Dame Catholic Church in Alief, who could not attend the school because there was not much financial aid to give out. In the 2023-2024 school year, over 20% of the student body received financial aid from a budget of over $4.8 million. Upon hearing those numbers, Mr. Hosty responded, “That is incredible.”
Mr. Hosty was always proud to work at Strake Jesuit, even during the financial collapse. On December 8, 2023, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, he joined us for our all-school Mass in the Competition Gym. “It felt so good seeing everyone again and brought back great memories [...] You’ve got another generation of faculty cranking up, who will have the same stories,” he said.
One piece of advice that Mr. Hosty has to the current faculty and staff is to “be happy, enjoy, and have fun.” He remembers a former student, now a Catholic priest, who wrote him a thank you note mentioning that he has been a topic of many of the priest’s homilies. “You don’t realize how important you are to the students [...] be an example and have fun with them.”
Jesuit education has weathered over 450 years of challenges by trusting that everything depends on God while working as if everything depends on us, and this also goes for Strake Jesuit. Fr. Alchediak’s faith and trust in God set the foundation for the faculty and staff to follow his example: to find God in all things and to serve Him without counting the costs.
Our faculty and staff are the most dedicated and faithful people I know, willing to do the best for our students and guiding them in answering God’s invitation in their lives. And just like Mr. John Hosty, soon we will have our own Strake Jesuit stories to tell, all of which point towards living Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, for the Greater Glory of God.

St. Stanislaus Kostka, patron of Strake Jesuit, pray for us!