Cardinal’s Circle helps families fulfill dreams

January 28, 2014

HOUSTON — Joann Prater knows all about the value of a Catholic school education. As principal of St. Christopher Catholic School, she not only educates students in mind, heart and spirit, but regularly hears about the great dividends yielded by her faculty’s efforts from past graduates — many of whom face considerable challenges early in life.

Last year, one of her former students became the first in his family to get a high school degree. He accomplished this even though his parents were divorced and his father was in prison. Prater said the young man is now looking into going to junior college and becoming a firefighter. He is hoping to send his little brother to St. Christopher next year.

Helping children achieve their dreams is why the Cardinal’s Circle was created. It is a giving circle comprised of individuals who have made a $5,000-annual commitment to the 13 Inner City Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in recognition of sharing the responsibility to educate future generations. 

Each gift is an investment in the future of these area students and helps ensure they receive a quality education in a safe atmosphere that is conducive to learning and academic development. 

“As a principal of an Inner City Catholic school, I can appreciate the support of The Cardinal’s Circle community, because I see the difference in our student’s lives,” Prater said. “Our students always stand out in public because of good behavior and manners. Many students start school in pre-Kindergarten classes and stay through the eighth grade. We become a family.”

The Cardinal’s Circle was established in June 2010 as a program to ensure any family could give their children a Catholic education. 

More than 2,000 students are currently enrolled in the 13 Inner City Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Outside of generous individual donors, The Cardinal’s Circle also welcomes parishes and organizations that would like to be part of this worthy cause.

“The inspiration (behind) The Cardinal’s Circle was the kids and it’s still the kids,” said Tom and Nancy Macrini. The Macrinis are benefactors and founders of The Cardinal’s Circle. “These schools can make an incredible impact and a difference in the lives of so many of Houston’s economically challenged youth and their families. The goals of The Cardinal’s Circle are to help the schools raise sufficient funds to sustain their educational excellence and to provide adequate tuition assistance to all students in need.” 

The mission continues to make it possible for a family to send their children to these schools and ensure the schools maintain a standard of excellence in curriculum and staff. 

The primary challenge is to keep tuition at levels that families can afford, according to the Macrinis.

“By keeping tuition affordable, the schools are able to increase enrollment and meet operational costs. Also, this frees up more funds for tuition assistance,” the Macrinis stated. “The Cardinal’s Circle is one of the drivers in this process.”

The Cardinal’s Circle for Excellence in the Inner City Catholic Schools has established an Archdiocesan fund to ensure any family can provide a Catholic education to their children for generations to come. 

For more information about The Cardinal’s Circle, visit

If you have a question or are interested in becoming a member of The Cardinal’s Circle, contact the Development Department at 713-652-4417 or visit 

Jonah Dycus contributed to this report.