Preserving the legacy of Catholic schools relies on support of the faithful

December 11, 2018

For almost 20 years, grants to Archdiocesan Catholic high schools like Frassati Catholic High School in Spring have been made possible through the generosity of the faithful who contribute to the Diocesan Services Fund. Photo courtesy of Frassati Catholic High School.

HOUSTON — Preserving the legacy that Catholic schools provide for future leaders of the Church is the responsibility of all the faithful, clergy and laity alike, according to the United States bishops. Making a Catholic education available, affordable and accessible to all Catholic families, including those who are poor and middle class, continues to be of utmost importance.

Currently, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has the largest Catholic school system in the state of Texas with approximately 20,000 students in its 44 diocesan grade schools, five private elementary schools, and 10 private high schools. Financial aid is made available through a variety of sources for those families that cannot afford the costs associated with a private school.

One source that provides tuition assistance to each of the 10 private high schools for their students is a grant through the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF). 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. For almost 20 years, grants to these high schools has been made possible through the generosity of the faithful who contribute to DSF.

One of the private high schools that provides tuition assistance from a grant through DSF is Frassati Catholic High School, located in north Houston and administered by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation since its founding in 2013.

“Our school aims to shape the whole person in mind, heart and spirit, challenging students with a rigorous curriculum, a variety of extracurricular activities, and opportunities for spiritual growth,” said Sister John Paul, O.P., principal of Frassati. “Just as Catholic schools are at the heart of the Church, so, too, is faith at the heart of everything we do.”

Sister John Paul said the tuition assistance program at Frassati Catholic provides financial assistance to students based on a family’s demonstrated financial need. The goal for offering tuition assistance is that no student be deterred from applying to Frassati Catholic because of financial reasons. Parents who anticipate a need for tuition assistance are encouraged to apply for aid on behalf of their child. Currently, approximately 65 students or 23 percent of the student body receive some level of tuition assistance. This amounts to approximately $280,000 for the 2018-2019 school year.

“Frassati Catholic is blessed to be the recipient of funds donated to the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) campaign,” said Sister John Paul. “On an annual basis, we receive monies from the DSF that we are able to share with families who have the desire, but not the financial means to afford, a Catholic education.”

A 2017 graduate of Frassati Catholic received tuition assitance during a period in high school when his family was in transition from a year of a job loss and underemployment. His parents, Bridget and Mark Edwards, believe the ability to Catholic school their child was a blessing to both their son and entire family.

“In addition to the rigorous curriculum, our son received an education steeped in God’s love, truth and beauty,” said Mark Edwards. “Now a sophomore at a Catholic university, he’s involved in Theology Club, is a small group leader for freshman campus ministry, a musician at Adoration and Mass, and a Theology minor, all as a result of his experience at Frassati Catholic.”

Joshua Herrera, a senior at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston who also receives financial assistance, has found value in the opportunities a Catholic education affords.

“Strake Jesuit’s generosity has opened up opportunities for me and my brother I never thought were possible,” said Herrera, “From a deeply religious educational environment to resource-intensive extracurriculars like debate, Strake Jesuit’s financial aid program has allowed me to realize — and pursue — my potential.”

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

“Our desire is to provide opportunities for every qualified applicant to attend Strake Jesuit regardless of economic circumstances,” said Father Johnson. “As such, we continually look to expand our reach to students who may not have imagined a Strake Jesuit education possible.”

Strake Jesuit offers financial aid to approximately 13 percent or 150 students per year. Assistance is need-based and ranges from partial to full tuition, as well as other programs for school lunches and textbooks. Strake Jesuit awarded more than $2 million this school year.

“The value of a Catholic education cannot be measured in opportunity or prestige but rather in faith and service,” said Ken Lojo, principal at Strake Jesuit. “Our mission as Catholic educators doesn’t stop at excellence in the classroom but extends to the formation of the whole person — mind, body and soul.”