History

Founded to Educate

The Brother David Darst Center, located in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, was founded in August, 2002, by Br. Denis Murphy, a De La Salle Christian Brother, in collaboration with Thomas and Claudia Thomas. The Darst Center and its mission were developed in response to the growing need for youth and young adults to be educated on issues of social justice and inspired to be intentional about their own just living.

In the fall of 2002, the Darst Center received recognition as an Illinois non-profit corporation, establishing its 501c3 federal and Illinois state tax-exempt status. At the same time, a Board of Directors was organized, comprised of Christian Brothers, Mercy Sisters and lay members. This Board has served as the consistent support of the Darst Center's development.

Continuing Efforts

The Center's efforts during its first year extended primarily to facility improvements and program development. Once established, the Darst Center held its first immersion retreat in February 2003, under the direction of Br. Denis Murphy and Tom Thomas, the first Darst Center Directors.

During the summer of 2005, the Board of Directors hired the first Executive Director and partnered with the Amate House Archdiocesan Volunteer Program to provide a second full-time staff presence. Immersion retreats continue to be the primary program, with workshops, speaking engagements and publications serving as supplemental methods of education.

Center Founder

Brother Denis has a B.A. in social sciences and a M.A. in education from St. Mary's University. He also was awarded a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Masters in religious education from Loyola University in Chicago.

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David Darst

David Darst, a Christian Brother and a teacher at Bishop Rummel High School in Omaha, was challenged by his students to recognize the momentous civil and social events that were transforming US society in the 1960s.

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Catonsville Nine

Br. David Darst was a high school teacher in St. Louis when he became involved with a group that would come to be known as the Catonsville Nine. Br. David taught against the immorality of the Vietnam War to his students, who, in turn, urged him to take action.

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