Cardinal’s Circle continues mission in supporting Inner City Catholic Schools

May 12, 2015

HOUSTON — Celebrating its five-year anniversary, The Cardinal’s Circle continues the mission of helping Inner City Catholic School students develop an appreciation for academic excellence and self-discipline while promoting an understanding of Catholic faith and values.

“It’s amazing to think that the Cardinal’s Circle is five years old,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said. “We cannot underestimate what these five years have done to bring real help to our Inner City Catholic Schools.”

More than 2,400 students from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds are currently enrolled in the 13 Inner City Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

“The need for The Cardinal’s Circle is still evident,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said. “The success and progress we have enjoyed these past five years should motivate us as Inner City Catholic Schools continue to act as cornerstones in their communities.”

That success was evident when Victoria Haddad shared her inspiring testimony during a recent gathering for Cardinal’s Circle members. The Incarnate Word Academy senior eloquently spoke about how her Catholic school education in the Archdiocese had a profound impact on her life.
When she was an eighth-grade student at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School, Haddad’s mother was shot in their home. Her mother survived, but the harrowing experience and long road of recovery has required great perseverance and faith.

“My mother pushed me to remain true to my goal of becoming valedictorian that year,” Haddad said. “And she did not let me fall. My community did not let me fall. My teachers lifted me up, brushed me off, and I set out to accomplish that goal.”

The Cardinal’s Circle members invest in the lives of these students through an annual commitment of $5,000. The generous donors form a “giving circle” committed to Inner City Catholic Schools in recognition of a shared responsibility to educate future generations — each gift is an investment in the future of students in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The Cardinal’s Circle also welcomes parishes and organizations who would like to be part of this worthy cause.

“We want our kids to do more than survive, we want our kids to thrive and grow and develop into amazing young people,” said Dr. Julie Vogel, superintendent of Catholics Schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. “Our vision is to make sure our Inner City Catholic Schools produce outstanding young people who will change the world. I think the most important resource that we have in our Catholic Church today is our Catholic school kids.”

Vogel credits the “dedication and determination of pastors, principals, teachers and parents to ensure that our students have an excellent Catholic education,” she said. “Our students need to be surrounded on every level by people who give them what they need — unconditional love. Unconditional love is the backbone of every disciple and is what we nurture and develop in our students so they will transform the world through their words and actions.”

A Mass and Dinner of Thanksgiving for members of The Cardinal’s Circle was held April 23. The Mass was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz at St. Mary’s Seminary. The dinner emcee was Tim Heller of ABC13 KTRK. During the invocation, Cardinal DiNardo was joined by students representing each of the Inner City Catholic Schools. 

“One of the things our Catholic schools help to interiorize in our young people is a beautiful sense of faith,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “And that’s a gift that keeps giving.”

A video presentation featuring The Cardinal’s Circle in action included a profile of Mathew Mendoza, a graduate of St. Pius V Catholic School in Pasadena. Mendoza graduated from St. Thomas High School in 2011, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and is currently in his first semester at South Texas College of Law. He credited the “family-oriented community” of Catholic schools for helping him reach his goals.

Haddad asked Cardinal’s Circle members in attendance that evening to call to mind an individual that made an indelible mark on their life. “For many of the students in this Archdiocese, you are that person,” Haddad said. “Your support has helped to forge the community that is the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. You have supported our parishes, our families, our schools and communities, making the Archdiocese feel like a coalition and a family. But it is because of this faith that we are connected as one. It is this faith that we have in common, the values that we share, and the focal point of our individual lives that give us our identity.”