Donors help make Catholic education a reality for many

August 17, 2021

A small cat plush is seen in a student’s backpack at St. Mary Catholic School in League City. St. Mary Catholic School Principal Laura Halbardier said tuition assistance supports the school’s efforts to support families who desire a Catholic education. (File photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — The IGNITE campaign was established to build funding for individual parish needs, infrastructure and housing at St. Mary’s Seminary, strengthen faith formation, rebuild and fortify parishes and schools that suffered damage during Harvey, build a future disaster recovery fund, and provide assistance to families who wish to send their children to Catholic primary schools.

“The IGNITE campaign helps to ensure that families who wish to send their children to a Catholic school can afford to do so with the help of tuition assistance, while also helping to form catechists who serve in our parish faith formation programs,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said.

For this upcoming school year, as in all years, the number of applicants for tuition assistance far exceeds the amount of available funding. In the eight Inner-City Catholic schools (ICCS) 1,185 have applied and 890 have received tuition assistance. Although more than $2 million is available for the year, the total need is more than $5.7 million. $1.5 million has already been awarded, and the all remaining funds will be awarded in the final round. For non-ICCS, 1,262 people have applied for tuition assistance, and 300 have received awards. The $394,872 available for this year has already been awarded and more than $4.4 million is still needed.

Laura Halbardier, principal at St. Mary Catholic School (SMCS) in League City, said that, as a Catholic ministry, all are called to “Open Wide the Doors” to Christ. This belief applies to all families in all economic situations.

“My goal is to make a Catholic education available to families that desire to attend, and financial need should not be an obstacle keeping families from enrolling in our Catholic schools,” she said. “Archdiocesan tuition assistance along with support from donors supports the mission of SMCS by filling the tuition needs of families that believe Catholic education is the best option for their families. It is not only a calling but a duty embedded in our faith to offer Catholic education to families and work with them to ensure they can attend school with the support they need.”

Halbardier said she believes it is imperative to offer Catholic education to all families that want to enroll their children. The need for tuition assistance supports families that would like to make that a reality.

“Supporting your local Catholic school is an investment in the future,” she said. “Students are challenged to think using a Catholic lens so they can grow in mind, heart and spirit.”

Jan Krametbauer, principal at St. Jerome Catholic School, said tuition assistance enables the school to reach out and offer assistance to additional families, thereby broadening the scope of students who are able to receive a Catholic education.

“There are many students who do not qualify for inner-city tuition assistance benefits and have family situations that keep them from being able to pay tuition in full,” she said. “Thanks to generous donors and benefactors to the Archdiocesan Tuition Assistance Fund, these students can get a Catholic education.”

Lucy Barbosa, who has three children who attend St. Jerome and one in public high school, said that before receiving tuition assistance, she was faced with deciding which children would go to public school and which ones would receive a Catholic education.

“Because the reality is I could not afford tuition for all of them,” she said. “Having received this assistance has given me the support to equally provide them a rich Catholic education that otherwise would not be possible.”

Barbosa said having this assistance available allows her and her kids to know that there are people and organizations that value Catholic education and are willing to donate for this purpose so other families can also share in Catholic education.

“It means the world to me! It also means community. For every family receiving, there is another one giving,” she said. “With this knowledge and gift, we are able to in turn give our time and talents in gratitude.”