Rwandan Genocide Survivor Spreads Forgiveness

(left to right): Father Dan Wilder , Elizabeth, Dr. John Freeh Father Ubald, Pastor Rick Warren,  Kay Warren, and Rwandan Bob
(left to right): Father Dan Wilder, Elizabeth, Dr. John Freeh, Father Ubald, Pastor Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), Kay Warren, and Rwandan Bob

By Sarah Gray Isenberg,

“Extreme horror requires extreme forgiveness,” boomed Father Ubald Rugirangoga in the JSerra High School gymnasium Friday.

The Rwandan genocide encompassed Rugirangoga’s childhood.

“I have never experienced a miracle before,” said Rugirangoga when asked how he survived the ethnic genocide after being forced to flee the killings. “I heard God’s voice in my ears, and he told me to run, to escape. So I did what he said.”

In 1963, Rugirangoga’s father was killed with his brothers and other relatives in one early wave of the genocide.

Rugirangoga and his family are Tutsis, an ethnic group that was historically victimized by the majority Hutus, an opposing Rwandan group.

“I have been subject to ethnic hatred,” he said. “My father was killed because of this hatred that exists.”

After his father’s murder, Rugirangoga’s mother labored in the fields to pay for his and his younger brother’s tuition for their religious schooling, and in 1984 Rugirangoga was ordained into priesthood in Rwanda.

However, the persecution was not over for the Tutsis.

To read the complete story click here.

A Message from JSerra Principal Dr. Freeh

As another school year is about to begin, with all its excitement and challenge, I would like to take this opportunity, as the new principal, to point to past accomplishments as well as future possibilities.  JSerra can be justly proud of its record of excellence, whether in academics or athletics.

In a relatively short time, we have managed to achieve much, thanks to the sacrifice and hard work of our founders and founding faculty.

But as we approach the milestone of our tenth anniversary in 2013, JSerra can also be confident with respect to its future. I say this having witnessed among my colleagues a strong fidelity to the school’s founding vision – a vision which recognizes that any education worth its name seeks to bring about a complete transformation of heart, mind and soul.

If asked to sum up the goals of a JSerra education, we could hardly find a better synopsis than the one expressed in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things” (4:8).

This is the gold standard, as it were, of all faith-based education. And that is the standard we seek to provide for our students, now, throughout the next decade, and beyond.

Let us look to the coming year with great confidence as we extend a warm welcome to the class of 2016 and to the fine new faculty and staff that have joined our ranks.

May God bless you, your families and the entire JSerra community.

Dr. John Freeh

JSerra Principal

A Year-End Message from Incoming Principal Freeh

Dear Friends,

With great excitement and gratitude my wife, Helen, and I look forward to joining the JSerra family and working together with you in continuing to make our school a model of Catholic secondary education.

We had the great privilege and blessing this past week of welcoming into the world our daughter, Theresa Bernice, an event that reminded me of the unique creation that each of us is. To anyone involved in the high and noble calling of educating the young – parents, teachers, coaches and counselors – the birth of a child urges us to reflect anew on the gift and mystery of all human life and to renew our commitment to helping our sons and daughters fulfill the destiny God intends for them.

In living out our commitment to education, the essential quality for each of us is nothing less than love, for love looks attentively at the other, discerns what is most needed, and works diligently towards that end – creatively, patiently and hopefully. As we end the current academic year and look forward to the year to come, may all who teach do so with love, for only through love can we educate those entrusted to our care.

And warm congratulations to the Class of 2012 and to their proud parents. Godspeed to all the graduates: In your future paths, may you share with others the gifts of learning you have received.


John Freeh

JSerra’s New Principal, Explorer at Heart

By Lauren Shepherd, San Juan Capistrano Patch

John Freeh and the Fr. Robert Spitzer share with parents their hopes to help students maintain a curiosity for learning and desire for faith.

“The mind is created as a heat-seeking missile with respect to the truth; it wants to know what the truth is, and that is true at every stage of one’s life,” said John Freeh, tapped in February to become the next principal at JSerra Catholic High School.

Guiding that heat-seeking missile and cultivating a sense of curiosity and wonder is how he sees his job, which technically starts in July.  Freeh said wants each teacher to treat his career as a vocation; a calling.

Taking the lead from poems such as “The Four Quartets,” is one way in which Freeh learns about how to be such a leader, he said.

“ ‘Old men ought to be explorers,’ ” Freeh quoted T.S. Eliot. He believes that the quote expresses the human need to constantly be learning.

To read the full article click here.