The Cardinal’s Circle marks 10 years of preparing students

November 26, 2019

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo visits students from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School. (Photo courtesy of the Development Office)

HOUSTON — The mission of The Cardinal’s Circle is to help Inner City Catholic Schools (ICCS) maintain a standard of academic excellence in curriculum and staff, and provide tuition assistance required by a large portion of their student population.

Through an annual contribution of $5,000, members invest in the lives of students at 12 ICCS, which provide opportunities for urban children and their families faced with incredible financial challenges. 

Founded in 2010 by Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza as a commitment to society and students in the Archdiocese’s urban areas, the organization celebrates a decade of providing this financial support to more than 16,000 students since its inception.

Archbishop Fiorenza said that the idea for The Cardinal’s Circle came after two Archdiocesan golf tournaments were joined into one, opening the door to develop the organization to help raise funds for the schools.

“It was an effort to engage the whole Archdiocese in this concentrated effort to keep our inner city schools available to the people who cannot pay the tuition,” he said. “These schools offer wonderful education. They’re academically very strong. Their graduates go on to do very well in high schools, and some now are even graduates from college.”

Nabor Mireles Jr., who is a junior in the honors program at the University of Texas in Austin, attended St. Augustine Catholic School. 

“Catholic education means that I have been blessed to have received education from the very best and I have an obligation of service to others,” he said. “I am grateful and hope to give back to my community.”

Mireles is a first-generation college student. His ultimate goal is to be accepted into medical school. He is the founder of a pre-med honors society at the university.

“I am sincerely grateful for the investment made towards my education,” he said. “I am confident St. Augustine instilled in me a strong faith and work ethic.”

Carolina Herrera Sonora, who is a freshman math major on a pre-law track at the University of Houston, attended Resurrection Catholic School.

She said, “A Catholic education prepares one to accept other views but stay consistent with the teachings of the Church.”

Sonora said she hopes to become a family and immigration lawyer.

“Without the support of The Cardinal’s Circle, my parents would not have been able to afford such a privilege,” she said. “The effects of the blessing of Catholic education will forever be present in my life.”

Archbishop Fiorenza said the fact that we have students from these schools are now doing so well educationally, not only finishing high school well, but college, is a wonderful testimony to the generosity of the people who support the organization.

“Without The Cardinal’s Circle, we wouldn’t be able to assist these schools to provide this type of excellent education to our students,” he said.

Irazema Ortiz, principal at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School (OLG), said that the donations from the organization have allowed the school to have newer textbooks and resources as well as provide professional development for teachers.

“Professional development has allowed the school to ensure that our teachers continue to strengthen their practice throughout their career,” she said. “Students have also had the opportunity to attend educational field trips. These field trips are the best tools that we can use to provide every student with real-world experiences.”

Without the additional funding, Ortiz said, OLG wouldn’t have the school LED digital marquee sign that has helped immensely with recruitment or the technology interactive Promethean boards, which are touchscreen.

“This amazing technology not only enhances the way teachers teach, but it also enhances the way students learn,” she said. “It has allowed to enrich learning experiences by projecting visual elements.”

Archbishop Fiorenza said the organization also honors Daniel Cardinal DiNardo.

“Being a member of The Cardinal’s Circle is a way of honoring him and honoring his desire that these schools continue to be available to parents who are not able to send their kids to many of our schools,” he said.

Archbishop Fiorenza said it is rewarding to see what students in ICCS are able to do with their education beyond their school, being both “outstanding Catholic citizens and productive in their desire to help others get a good education as they were assisted.”

“I am happy and proud to get The Cardinal’s Circle established and that it has done very well,” Archbishop Fiorenza said. “It is a big joy and satisfaction to me.”