Catholic high school educational scholarships help form minds, hearts and spirit

November 8, 2016

O’Connell College Preparatory Government/Economics teacher Anthony Cann gives a lecture on government to seniors using the school’s outdoor classroom, which was built by one of the senior students as their senior project. Photo courtesy of O'Connell College Preparatory in School

HOUSTON — It has been said that education is one of the best investments parents can make for their children. Having access to academic excellence within a Catholic school setting helps to form the whole child — in mind, heart and spirit, as well as encourage them to fix their eyes on heaven and becoming a disciple of Christ.

Families of all backgrounds, income and faith with pre-school through 12th-grade students attend over 60 Catholic schools located within the Archdiocese. Eligible families with a demonstrated need may receive financial assistance provided through the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), including access to high-school educational scholarships. The DSF is an annual appeal that provides funding for 60 essential ministries and programs in the Archdiocese that serve the religious, spiritual and human needs of thousands of people from every parish.

Three Houston Catholic high schools that provide financial assistance through the DSF are O’Connell College Preparatory School, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory and Frassati Catholic High School.

At O’Connell College Preparatory School located in Galveston, currently 66 percent of the student population benefits from the Guardian Angel Program, which provides partial tuition assistance and subsidized tuition rates. The combined amount of money awarded each school year averages $180,000.

“Our mission is to offer a quality, Christian, college-preparatory education to all students,” said Patti Abbott, principal of O’Connell College Preparatory School. “Through the generous gift of the DSF fund, we are able to offer financial assistance to many students who would otherwise be unable to take advantage of all we offer here at O’Connell.”

Abbott said while attending a Catholic high school can be expensive, financial aid options are available and families who cannot afford the tuition should actively pursue those options. One graduating senior at O’Connell is one example.

“Without this type of funding, a Catholic education, which prepares the mind and the soul to carry out God’s will for our lives, would be beyond the reach of many families,” said Catherine Goodridge, the mother of funds recipient and current senior at O’Connell, Katelyn Goodridge.

Strake Jesuit College Preparatory located in Houston typically offers financial assistance to approximately 12 percent or 130 students annually. Based on the demonstrated need of the family, awards range from partial to full tuition, as well as programs to help meet other costs of attendance, such as school lunches, textbooks, school related trips, etc. More than $1.5 million was awarded this school year.

Father Jeff Johnson, S.J., president of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, agrees that contributing to the DSF each year helps the school meet all the demonstrated needs of the families that apply. 

“The Archdiocese, through the DSF, generously helps us meet 100 percent of the need,” Father Johnson said. “If a family demonstrates a financial need, we should be able to come together as a Catholic community and provide for the Catholic education of their children.”

Father Johnson said this type of education is costly and is not getting any cheaper. The students who embrace the challenge offered at Strake Jesuit come from all walks of life. 

“Our formation and education should not be limited to only those who can pay for it,” said Father Johnson. “I strongly encourage families with young men who want an education steeped in the rich spiritual and intellectual traditions of the Catholic faith to apply to Strake Jesuit and to apply for financial aid.”

Two Strake Jesuit graduates, both currently sophomores in college, are grateful for the opportunity to have received a quality Catholic high-school education, which would not have been possible without financial assistance.

“The gift of financial aid has given me the opportunity to pay back my parents for their sacrifices by opening doors for me to be able to receive a more affordable education,” said Oluwaseun Lagberno.

“My work grant has helped show me how hard you need to work to make your life successful,” said Alex Moreno. “It has taught me how to exceed my diligence in work due to devotion to work.”

At Frassati Catholic High School located in north Houston, the tuition assistance program provides financial assistance to students based on a family’s demonstrated financial need to help with the cost of tuition. Currently, approximately 50 students or 20 percent of the student body receive tuition assistance. This amounts to an approximate combined amount of $240,000 annually.

“Our tuition assistance funds significantly impact our enrollment as they allow us to meet the needs of families who desire a Catholic high school education, but may be reluctant to apply for financial reasons,” said Stacey Fontenot, Director of Admissions at Frassati Catholic High School. “These funds have ensured that we can continue to grow our student body, grow our campus and serve the families in north Houston who desire a Catholic high school education.”

These educators believe focusing on the entire child in mind, body and spirit through a Catholic educational experience makes a profound difference compared to attending other public and private schools.

“All that we do at Strake Jesuit ultimately can be traced back to our faith, which is our response to God’s grace and love in our lives,” Father Johnson said. “This guides us in the education and formation of the whole human person in such a way that integrates the needs of the mind, the body and the soul. Our Catholic faith shapes and guides the way we see our students as children of God, and our Jesuit spirituality teaches us that we are to love, serve and praise God in all that we do and in the most effective way possible.”

Abbott said the smaller classroom sizes traditionally offered at Catholic schools allow students to have more interaction with teachers and peers.

“This gives them a chance to express themselves in an academic setting,” Abbott said. “In addition, students, through theology classes, are exposed to the teachings of Christ. This experience serves to enhance the spirituality of our Catholic students and to broaden the Christian perspectives of our non-Catholic students.” 

Abbott said in a Christian atmosphere, students also learn to solve problems using faith and values that will serve them well throughout their lives.

“Many graduating seniors at O’Connell receive grants and scholarships to major universities, lessening the financial hardship placed on families in providing a college education,” Abbott said. “The students are better prepared in academic, social, spiritual and financial situations having attended a Catholic school.”

For more about the Diocesan Services Fund, visit