When JCA students, faculty, and staff returned to campus for the 2016-2017 school year, they were greeted by the completion of Heritage Quad. The quad includes walls paying tribute to the three schools that became Joliet Catholic Academy: De La Salle High School, Joliet Catholic High School, and St. Francis Academy. It provides a new gathering place for students and alumni. It also brings back the Victory Light, which has survived as a symbol for the school, and is now back on campus in physical form.
Rev. Bob Colaresi, a member of the JCA Board of Members who was principal at the old Joliet Catholic High School on Broadway where the original Victory Light still resides said, “It’s a great reproduction…the physicality of a symbol means everything”.
Spurred on by encouragement from JCA’s founding orders, the Carmelites and Franciscans, the JCA administration sought to celebrate it’s 147-year tradition of Catholic education in the Joliet and Will County area by re-creating a school seal that included elements of past school seals from Joliet Catholic High School and St. Francis Academy.
All agreed that Joliet Catholic Academy’s iconic Victory Light would stand proudly at the center of the new seal, a beacon to future generations of Angels and Hilltopper’s seeking to emulate the past and current successes of JCA’s 22,700 alumni.
JCA president/principal Dr. Jeffrey Budz said, “It was important for us as a school to display the iconic symbol of the Victory Light and also the names and symbols of our founding orders the Carmelites and Franciscans. This powerful symbol, which you see throughout our community on cars, billboards, and in Heritage Quad represents the spiritual, academic, social, and athletic successes that a Carmelite and Franciscan education has provided and will continue to provide for future generations”.
A committee group consisting of JCA faculty, staff, current students, alumni, Carmelites, and Franciscans met throughout the 2015-2016 school year to decide on what elements of JCA’s history should be included in a traditional seal. The words “Carmelite” and “Franciscan” were imperative, because JCA is unique in that it is the only high school in the country co-sponsored by these two religious orders, which are both noted for their excellence in education and producing leaders across the country.
Sister Dolores Zemont, OSF, president of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate and a current member of JCA’s Board of Members said, “‘the JCA seal represents a long tradition of educational history of both orders – the Franciscans and the Carmelites, joined together in one great school. The crest of the Franciscans on the seal bears the traditional coat of arms of the Franciscan Order, the crossed hands of Jesus and St. Francis, over the cross”.
The traditional coat of arms of the Franciscan Order sits to the right of the Victory Light on the seal, joined on the opposite side by the Carmelite Shield. The Carmelite Shield “consists of a white mountain, representing Mount Carmel in Haifa Israel, the Carmelite Order’s place of origin. The stars represent the Marian and Elian traditions of the Order. The star on the mountain represents the Virgin Mary to whom the Order is dedicated. The two stars in the upper portion of the shield are the prophets Elijah and Elisha. These two men from the Book of Kings in the Old Testament are considered the spiritual inspirations of the Order today.
At the center of the seal stands JCA Victory Light, which epitomizes Joliet Catholic Academy. It was built in imitation of the original St. Pat’s Church, because Catholic High on Broadway Street, where the original Victory Light still resides, stands on the site of what once was St. Patrick’s. The tower was originally lit in 1927 to inform Joliet residents of the Hillmen’s victory at the National Catholic Basketball Championship. Now the Victory Light burns after any major victory, athletic or academic.
Today the JCA Official School Seal (which bears the year 1869 on its base, commemorating the founding of Catholic education in Joliet by the Franciscan sisters at St. Francis Academy) is a powerful symbol to the community of tradition, spirit, loyalty, knowledge, and truth.