Rebekah Grinnen teaches in a public school district but is grateful for the opportunity to send her four children to Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Ellwood City, thanks to support from the Bishop’s Education Fund and other assistance.
“Not only are my children receiving a quality education, but the opportunity for them to openly give praise to God is precious,” Mrs. Grinnen said. “As a public school teacher, I come into contact with hundreds of students on a daily basis. I can easily spot those who have attended Catholic school. Their morality and presence truly stand out from all of the rest.”
Since the first need-based tuition grants were distributed from the Fund in the 1995-96 school year, about $10 million in assistance has been given to more than 35,000 children from almost every parish in our diocese. Each September a diocesan-wide collection is held in every parish to help support the Bishop’s Education Fund, and it has helped to make an impact.
Still, it’s not nearly enough. Our Campaign for The Church Alive! will allocate $12 million to increase the Fund’s permanent endowment by 60 percent, enabling thousands more students to benefit from a Catholic education, in addition to the more than 42,000 young people who are taught the faith in parish religious education programs.
“Thank you for all that you do for not only my family, but for all of those who are blessed with the support from the Diocese of Pittsburgh,” Mrs. Grinnen said.
Parents across the Diocese of Pittsburgh echo those words of appreciation.
“Catholic education has given my children the guidance, the love, and the support they need,” said Kelly Kovalsky, a parent at St. Agnes School in West Mifflin. “I could never have sent them to this great school if it were not for the help we’ve received.”
“St. Maria Goretti School serves as a second home to our son,” Edwin Rodriquez said. “The sisters, priests and teachers emphasize faith, responsibility, respect and honesty that will enable our son to grow up as a better person.”
Supporting the Bishop’s Education Fund through the campaign is a priceless investment, according to Dr. Pat Joyce, director of the diocesan Office for Stewardship.
“A quality Catholic education is not a commodity that you purchase and consume for your own benefit,” Dr. Joyce said. “It also benefits the Church to have better educated faithful who take on the responsibility of Christian Stewardship, and it helps our community in general to keep a Christ-centered purpose.
“Catholic students become wise, informed and faithful stewards of what they’ve inherited. This investment isn’t about buying something, it’s about building something.”
Not all families with proven need receive grants because there is not enough funding to help everyone. In 2011-2012, through the Fund and other assistance, the diocese was able to provide only about 26 percent of the demonstrated financial need to help families enroll in Catholic schools.
“Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School is dedicated to ensuring that an OLSH education is within reach for all families, regardless of their individual financial circumstances,” president Terry O’Rourke Donoghue said. “We are grateful for the assistance that our families receive because it helps us to advance the legacy and core values of the Felician Sisters who founded our school over 80 years ago.”
“Receiving a Catholic education ensures that God is a part of our children’s everyday lives in school,” said Mary Ann Miller, whose daughter and son attend Assumption School in Bellevue. “They grow up learning that God is always with them throughout the day. We’ve made sacrifices to send our children to Assumption School but it has been well worth it.”
Amanda Cantelmi, another parent at Holy Redeemer, sums up the feelings of many supporters of Catholic schools.
“You cannot put a price tag on the joy I feel when my son comes home reciting the Our Father. It is this religious and like-minded value system that distinguishes our school. We are extremely blessed, and it wouldn’t be possible without the help we receive. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”