The reasons are different. The need is the same.
The child’s father is unemployed. Or the mother has been recently diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Perhaps the parents are divorced. Or, due to circumstances beyond their control, grandparents living on a fixed income now find themselves to be the primary caregivers of their grandchildren.
All these children want the opportunity to attend a Catholic school but unfortunately the family does not have the resources to pay the full cost of tuition.
A Catholic education should be in reach to any parent whose desire is to place their child in a learning environment where Jesus is the center of all that they do.
On the weekend of Sept. 26-27 at all Masses celebrated in the diocese, the annual tuition
assistance collection, Share in the Spirit, will take place. Contributions to the collection combined with funds from the diocesan Vision for the Future Education Trust help open the doors to Catholic elementary and secondary schools to children whose parents struggle to meet the financial obligation of school tuition.
Last year, parishioners throughout the diocese contributed nearly $215,000 to the Share in the Spirit collection. Those gifts coupled with proceeds from the diocesan education trust have enabled the diocese to provide $604,000 in tuition assistance to 295 students at 23 schools throughout the diocese for the current school year.
But the need is much greater. In total the diocese received applications representing nearly 1,200 students. FACTS, an independent agent that analyzes the financial need of each applicant, determined that more than $4.4 million would be required to fulfill the maximum need of every family who qualified for assistance.
It’s wonderful to be able to inform parents that they are recipients of tuition assistance and therefore their children will be able to attend the Catholic school of their choice. On the other hand, it’s disheartening when a parent learns that their application has been denied. Even though the family has a true financial need, there simply is not enough money available to provide assistance to everyone.
Diocesan schools are dedicated to educating students in the light of Jesus Christ. Learning is faith-based, rigorous and standards based. Students are encouraged to develop skills of collaboration, problem solving, and teamwork in addition to mastering content areas.
Teachers and principals are highly qualified professionals who are dedicated to helping students learn. Catholic schools provide a comprehensive education to each student, in a loving Christian community, where prayer, sacraments and service to others are infused into daily living and learning.
Our hope is that parishioners will see the value in Catholic education and support the Share in the Spirit collection so that more children can be educated in an environment where prayer, sacraments and service to others are infused into their daily living and learning experience.
Catholic schools are worth the investment – not only for parents but for everyone who cares about the quality of education and the future of our children. The more students we are able to serve, the stronger our Catholic schools become.
Fols is head of the diocesan Development Department, which manages the Share in the Spirit collection.