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Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Saint John’s High School

A Lecture Sponsored by the Curtis Family · Monday, May 23, 2011

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, moral and religious leader of the struggle against apartheid and racism in South Africa, will speak to students, faculty and guests at Saint John’s High School on the evening of Monday, May 23.

“Archbishop Tutu’s work in South Africa and around the world has helped to transform individuals and societies,” remarked Saint John’s Headmaster Michael Welch ’78. “His life of Christian service has changed history on a global scale and serves as an inspiration to all.”

Mr. Welch noted the similarity between Archbishop Tutu’s non-violent, faith-filled and inspirational legacy, and the mission and values of the Catholic Xaverian Brothers, who founded and sponsor Saint John’s.

Archbishop Tutu’s visit to Saint John’s is sponsored by Fred ’85 and Sarah Curtis, and the Betty Curtis Writing Center. Mr. Curtis credits Saint John’s, along with his parents, for shaping his faith, moral focus, commitment to human rights and awareness that one individual can make society a better place. Like Mr. Welch, he sees a connection between what he learned at Saint John’s and what Archbishop Tutu has given the world.


Admission to the Desmond Tutu lecture will be limited to ticketed guests only. All guests, including Saint John’s students, faculty and alumni, must bring their tickets for admission.

Registrations are no longer being accepted for additional tickets.


Although tickets are sold out to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s talk at Saint John s, we are able to offer seating at a discounted price for the archbishop’s appearance Friday, May 20 at 7 p.m., in the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut (formerly the Hartford Civic Center). Saint John’s alumnus Daniel Doyle ’67 and the Institute for International Sport are Archbishop Tutu’s hosts for the evening, which also includes a concert at 8 p.m. by famed saxophonist Branford Marsalis.

Tickets for this event are ordinarily $50, but Mr. Doyle is generously making them available to the Saint John’s community for only $15.80 per person. To purchase tickets, contact Lisa Feigenbaum at the XL Center at 860-524-5690 or lfeigenbaum@xlcenter.com.

Desmond Tutu was the first black dean of the Anglican cathedral in Johannesburg, South Africa, and became the first black archbishop of Cape Town in 1986. During that time, he rose to international fame by criticizing the institutionalized racism of South Africa and denouncing violence — by both supporters and critics of apartheid.

When apartheid ended in 1994, Archbishop Tutu led the nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is credited with coining the term “Rainbow Nation” to refer to the new South Africa’s unity and ethnic diversity. He became archbishop emeritus in 1996 and has continued to advocate justice in Africa and in the world, campaigning against racism, unfair trade, war, political corruption and HIV/AIDS.

“Archbishop Tutu helped the world to become better aware of the problems facing South Africa and other regions around the world, which  helped to bring about solutions,” said Mr. Curtis. “I’m excited that we’re bringing one of the greatest leaders in human rights, not just in South Africa but in the world, to Saint John’s.”

Last year, Archbishop Tutu announced his retirement from public life and his May 23 engagement in Shrewsbury is believed to be among his final public appearances in the United States.

The archbishop’s visit includes a learning, reading and writing component for students — a perfect fit with the Betty Curtis Writing Center, which also sponsors the Betty Curtis Worcester County Young Writers’ Conference on March 5. In preparation for the talk in May, Saint John’s students will read a selection of Archbishop Tutu’s writings and respond to a school-wide essay prompt.

Among his many awards, Desmond Tutu has received the Nobel Peace Prize (1984), Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism (1986), Gandhi Peace Prize (2005), William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding (2008) and Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009).

Archbishop Tutu will be the second Nobel Peace Prize laureate to have addressed Saint John’s students in recent years. Professor Elie Wiesel, the noted Holocaust survivor and worldwide activist against injustice, spoke to a capacity crowd of 1,200 as part of the school’s Abdella Center for Ethics lecture series in 2005.