The Cardinal’s Circle offers every family an opportunity for Catholic school education

March 26, 2013

HOUSTON — Jeff and Anna Courville have always felt a call to support Catholic education — and when they learned of The Cardinal’s Circle, they saw it as the perfect avenue to do just that.

“I was blessed with a Catholic education and always felt it should be available to everyone,” Anna Courville said.

More than 2,000 students from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds are enrolled in the 13 Inner City Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The Cardinal’s Circle members invest in the lives of these students through an annual commitment of $5,000. The generous donors form a “giving circle” committed to Inner City Catholic Schools in recognition of a shared responsibility to educate future generations — each gift is an investment in the future of students in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The Cardinal’s Circle also welcomes parishes and organizations who would like to be part of this worthy cause.

“There is tremendous support at the high school and college level for scholarships, but so often the elementary schools get missed,” Anna Courville said. “I think Catholic education should start with elementary school, then continue on. I wanted to support children getting the early start, so that they are prepared for their continuing education.”

The Courvilles have been members of The Cardinal’s Circle for three years; Jeff Courville has been a member of the Circle’s committee for two years.
“I love helping to provide an opportunity for someone to make the most of their God-given gifts and talents,” Jeff Courville said. “Our greatest responsibility to our children is to provide them with the skills to navigate life and live for God. Catholic schools are an excellent opportunity for children to get an amazing education and more importantly, nourish their spirituality. We’d love for everyone to have that opportunity.”

In addition to helping families provide a Catholic school education to their children, The Cardinal’s Circle members help ensure that Inner City Catholic Schools maintain a standard of excellence in curriculum, staff and physical facilities.

“In touring the schools, the kids are proud to show off some of the new teaching resources and tell you about their wonderful teachers,” Jeff Courville said. “The reason these Catholic schools are so effective is because of the great teachers who are committed to these kids. The Cardinal’s Circle is a key resource to allow these schools to have the funding required to maintain this level of excellence in their staff and resources.”

Each of the Inner City Catholic Schools carry a strong tradition of faith formation combined with educational excellence and service to the community as students are able to learn and thrive in an environment conducive to academic and spiritual development.

“I heard Sister Kevina Keating (Superintendent of Catholic schools) say that Catholic Schools must be excellent in both academic and spiritual education,” Anna Courville said. “Catholic schools educate the whole child, mind and spirit.”

“The members of The Cardinal’s Circle truly believe in Catholic education,” Jeff Courville said. “Catholic schools have been proven to make a significant impact on the communities they serve. The Cardinal’s Circle helps these Inner City schools to fulfill one of the original purposes of Catholic schools. They help to ensure that anyone, regardless of their economic background, has access to the highest quality education.”

To honor the 2012-2013 members of The Cardinal’s Circle, a Mass and dinner was held March 21. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo — just back from Rome after his participation in the Papal Conclave that elected Pope Francis — celebrated Mass at the chapel at St. Mary’s Seminary and recognized the 175 members to the Circle.

Priests from the Archdiocese, including pastors representing Inner City Catholic Schools, served as concelebrants. Students from Resurrection Catholic School, Queen of Peace Catholic School and St. Christopher Catholic School assisted with Mass, serving as lectors and gift bearers and reading intercessions. Students from these schools also served as greeters outside the chapel. The Catholic Schools Choir performed at the Mass under the direction of Dr. Rick Lopez, associate director with the Office of Worship.

The dinner program was led by Master of Ceremonies Don Nelson. Cardinal DiNardo provided the welcoming address to all of the attendees. Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz was among the guests at the dinner. Marsha Masi, principal at Our Lady of Fatima School in Galena Park, expressed her gratitude for the donations received by The Cardinal’s Circle donors.

Sister Keating introduced the keynote speaker Gregory Gomez, a biology teacher at Cristo Rey Jesuit. Through Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education program, Gomez taught middle school science and religion at an inner-city Catholic school in South Central Los Angeles and later served as vice principal at an inner-city Catholic school in East Los Angeles. He studied developmental psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University where his graduate work involved helping Rikers Island inmates become published authors.

Following the dinner, Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza offered the evening’s closing remarks.

For more information about The Cardinal’s Circle, visit or call 713-652-4417.