The Cardinal’s Circle helps Inner City Catholic Schools transform students into models of the Gospel

November 22, 2016

The Cardinal’s Circle seeks to enable the Inner City Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to maintain a standard of excellence. In addition to tuition assistance, the group enables schools to meet the other challenges in education today: competitive teacher salaries, classroom technology, and provide for a safe environmen

HOUSTON — Ariella Ortega said her education at Queen of Peace Catholic School intrinsically linked academics with faith and service, a standard that still resonates with her as a student at the University of St. Thomas in Houston (UST).

“Moral values are instilled in the lessons,” she said. “Catholic schools do not just intend for us to be well-educated and prepared for the real world; but educated and prepared while equally holding onto Catholic values that influence our decisions and the way we treat others and ourselves.”

It is that high standard that makes Inner City Catholic Schools such as Queen of Peace an integral part of the Archdiocese and the Galveston-Houston community as a whole.

Founded in 2010, the mission of The Cardinal’s Circle is to help Inner City Catholic Schools maintain that standard of academic excellence in curriculum and staff. The Cardinal’s Circle also assists these 13 schools to provide tuition assistance required by a large portion of their student population.

“A Catholic school education shapes our young people for the future — morally, spiritually and academically,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said. “Our support is of preeminent importance to carry out our mission, especially for the Inner City Catholic schools.”

Members of The Cardinal’s Circle invest in the lives of Inner City Catholic Schools’ students through an annual commitment of $5,000. Contributions support the needs of each school from tuition assistance to investment in technology, curriculum and quality teachers. For the last seven years, members of The Cardinal’s Circle have made a substantial difference in the capability of these schools to keep pace with the rapidly changing requirements for student information and learning.

Inner City Catholic Schools offer students a daily connection to their faith, their education, athletics and relationship to family, Church and the community. Providing a holistic formative experience for these students continue to pose serious challenges to the principals, teachers and volunteers, especially as they operate with limited budgets. The financial support they receive from The Cardinal’s Circle help to bridge the gap.

“These schools are grateful beyond measure for the gifts and the confidence demonstrated in them by those support The Cardinal’s Circle each year,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “(At Inner City Catholic Schools), you will find some remarkable behavior amongst the students. There is an air of quiet discipline that allows children to learn, to contemplate, to reflect and to be creative. Their faith emanates from their hearts in a way that makes them kind to each other and to their teachers. They are models of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.”

What sets apart Inner City Catholic Schools is this continual formation of discipleship by building a “deep and ever-present relationship with Christ,” according to Dr. Julie Vogel, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for Galveston-Houston. Through this formation, “our students can transform the world not just today but tomorrow and always.”

“This is the primary reason our families choose to entrust their children to our care,” she said. “We all believe that every child is made in the image and likeness of God and therefore deserves the best of who we are every single day. We are raising young men and women with the skills necessary to be critical thinkers, creative problem solvers and productive leaders in our communities for the greater good of society.”

Speaking from her own experience, Ortega agrees that Inner City Catholic School education forms well-rounded individuals not only in the classrooms but within the community and at home. The Cristo Rey Jesuit Preparatory graduate is currently studying engineering at UST.
“With charity being one of the Catholic virtues, (Inner City Catholic School) students are encouraged to participate in their community by helping others,” Ortega said. “These interactions encourage individuals to humble themselves and become aware of issues in a community.”