Catholic Schools Office nurtures future saints, leaders for generations beyond the classroom

February 27, 2024

A young student from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School peeks over the pew in prayer during Ash Wednesday Mass Feb. 14 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Houston’s East End neighborhood. The school, with its 227 students, is the oldest Catholic grade school in Houston. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — The joyous words of four-year-old Anthony, beaming with excitement and smiling from ear to ear, echoed in Veronica Tucker’s heart: “Mrs. Tucker, one day I am going to be St. Anthony!”

Tucker, currently in her sixth year as the principal of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School (SAPCS) in The Woodlands, was engaged in a discussion about the lives of the saints in a PK-4 classroom. It’s during such moments that she is reminded of the profound truths that often emerge from the innocent “mouth of babes.”

“I couldn’t help but smile and get a little teary-eyed,” Tucker said. “Anthony’s life goal at this tender age of four reminded me that we are all called to be saints.”

Balancing her roles as a school administrator and parent of children attending Catholic schools, Tucker reflected on the gift of Catholic education and the privilege of serving these children and their families. She witnesses numerous blessings during her visits to classrooms on this PK-3 through eighth-grade campus.

“I witness the Holy Spirit when second-grade students share their excitement to receive the Eucharist, which deepens my appreciation for the gift of this Sacrament,” Tucker said.

“Watching middle school students in deep conversations with their teacher about heaven and hell, formation of conscience, and how to apply their faith to the challenges of being a teenager reminds me of the deep need for connection to Jesus at every phase of life.”

Tucker believes that practicing the faith with the children throughout the day — from the opening prayer, celebrating Mass and Sacraments, to praying the Angelus at noon, and before meals and tests, until the final bell rings — becomes a constant reminder of Jesus’s love. This, in turn, deepens the faith of both students and staff throughout the day.

This commitment to faith and spiritual growth aligns seamlessly with the broader mission of the Catholic Schools Office (CSO) that supports the day-to-day operations of SAPCS and 54 other Catholic schools in the Archdiocese. The ministry provides professional development and support, as well as opportunities for the staff to practice and deepen its faith during the year, fostering a profound connection to Jesus that permeates every aspect of life beyond textbooks and course curriculum.

Connie Masera, instructional support services coordinator for St. Laurence Catholic School in Sugar Land, is currently in her second year in this role. She said the CSO has been a remarkable source of support for the school staff, providing spiritual, professional and emotional assistance from day one.

“The many amazing Christ-centered people at the CSO who I have met and developed friendships with and worked with side-by-side have deepened my connection to Jesus,” Masera said. “The ministry offers many opportunities to grow in your faith and actively show your love of Jesus through prayerful reflection, sharing with others, learning about saints’ lives, learning different ways of prayer, and being part of compassionate and caring acts toward others. The ministry of CSO continues to strengthen my personal faith life.”

As part of the CSO-supported Curriculum Leadership PLC and the instructional specialist team, Masera has received opportunities for professional development and growth. She has collaborated on diverse projects, including curriculum development and writing, contributing to publications, and facilitating professional development workshops. Through catechist certification, she personally gained profound knowledge, deeper appreciation, and love for the Catholic faith and its daily gifts.

“During my first year, I was constantly e-mailing or calling the CSO for guidance, reassurance or help in finding resources,” Masera said. “The CSO staff graciously gives of themselves every day in a non-judgmental, accepting and patient way. They have truly made a difference in my spiritual and professional life.”

Adriana Gutierrez, director of communications at St. Laurence Catholic School, has devoted 18 years to Catholic education within the Archdiocese. During her service in Catholic education, she has participated and collaborated in many of the CSO programs and events. One particular time when she felt the profound work of the Holy Spirit was through her involvement with the ministry when she was called to serve in a Catholic school.

“In that moment, I sensed a divine guidance that reassured me of the significance of my mission and enriched my life in ways I hadn’t anticipated,” Gutierrez said. “The Holy Spirit’s constant presence in this journey has undoubtedly enhanced my life and provided a profound sense of purpose and fulfillment while reminding me of the transformative impact faith can have on our daily lives.”

Gutierrez said daily interactions with students, colleagues and the wider community have allowed her to witness the teachings of Jesus unfolding in tangible ways.

“This continuous experience reminds me of the profound significance of love, compassion and service, nurturing a deeper and more meaningful relationship with my faith,” Gutierrez said.

Catholic Schools Office supports Catholic schools

The CSO is among the 64 ministries funded by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF). All of the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese benefit from the annual appeal. Every dollar collected from the DSF is valued and strategically utilized based on the needs and best interests of each ministry.

“All money given to the ministry of Catholic education supports the formation of the future of our Church,” Tucker said. “When visiting classrooms, these are our future teachers, doctors, military personnel, mothers, fathers, first responders, priests, sisters — and saints! There is truly no greater investment.”

For Masera, Catholic education and giving to the DSF have been a priority for her family for over 30 years. She believes supporting the fund is more than a financial commitment — it’s a fulfillment of Christ’s call to contribute time, treasures and talents for the well-being of others.

“The ministries supported by the DSF provide for Catholic education to the young and old, help guide new priests and care for the retired priests, take care of the poor and sick, and provide many services to the people in need,” Masera said. “Christ calls everyone to give of their time, treasures and talents for the good of others.”

Gutierrez also contributes to the DSF and encourages the faithful to contribute to the 2024 appeal.

“Giving to DSF is not just a financial contribution; it’s an investment in the holistic development of individuals and the broader community,” said Gutierrez said. “It ensures that the transformative work of the Catholic Church continues, impacting many lives positively for years to come. Giving becomes a shared commitment to fostering an environment where the whole Christian person is nurtured in body, mind and spirit while supporting each student in a well-rounded, faith-based environment.”

To learn more about the CSO, visit To donate to the DSF, go to The DSF supports each of these ministries, whether direct service or education, which require this critical funding to remain in operation. Out of each gift given to DSF, 100% of every dollar goes directly to supporting these ministries.