The Cardinal’s Circle offers opportunities for education

April 22, 2014

HOUSTON — The annual Mass and dinner for the members of The Cardinal’s Circle was held April 2. 

The Mass, held at St. Mary’s Seminary, was officiated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and con-celebrated with Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz and Retired Bishop Vincent M. Rizzotto, along with 14 priests from the Inner City Catholic Schools and parishes who are members of the circle. 

Students from Our Lady of Fatima in Galena Park, St. Pius V and St. Peter the Apostle helped the Liturgy by serving as greeters outside the chapel, lectors and gift bearers. The Archdiocesan Schools Choir, led by Dr. Rick Lopez, associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Worship. 

During his homily, Cardinal DiNardo said there are theological reasons for the existence of Catholic schools. 

“These schools give the vessel of faith to children who go on to live meaningful and purposeful lives,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “What better place to educate a child than one that reminds them of the unconditional love of God.”

The Cardinal’s Circle was created four years ago to help families provide a Catholic school education for their children.

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. 

Members of the organization 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.

Frank Amsler, along with his wife Paula, have been contributing to The Cardinal’s Circle since its inception during the 2010-2011 school year. 

“The 13 inner city schools represent a demographic that is unusually vulnerable to the pitfalls of our society,” Amsler said. “The families of the students are not in a financial position that they can afford to support the schools in a way that would bring true quality education. By forming the Cardinal’s Circle, the Catholic Church is embracing these students, supporting them when they need it the most, and putting these young people on a path where they can choose a much more meaningful life. We all benefit from the works they will do and their future ability to reach back and help another person.”

Amsler said he benefitted greatly from a Catholic education.

“My earliest formation was at St. Theresa of Avila Catholic School in Boston,” he said. “My neighborhood would be considered lower middle class with most of our parents being blue collar workers. The way out of the neighborhood was through education. Because of St. Theresa’s I was accepted to a college prepatory school and ultimately went to the U.S. Air Force Academy. The love of education has led me to two graduate degrees since college.”

After Mass, members of The Cardinal’s Circle were honored with a Dinner of Thanksgiving. 

The dinner program was led by Master of Ceremonies Don Nelson. Cardinal DiNardo provided the welcoming address to all of the attendees.
Keynote speaker, Charles Pressler, a senior at St. Thomas High School, expressed his gratitude to the organization for helping him receive a Catholic education. 

He began his education at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic School, one of 13 Inner City Catholic Schools. 

Now a Basilian Scholar, Pressler spoke to the organization about his involvement at the high school and shared his plans for the future.
Gregory Gomez, special liaison to the Cardinal for Inner City Catholic Schools, said “If you were born into the bottom quartile of the income earners in this country, you have about an eight percent chance of finishing college. If you are born in the top quartile, that number jumps to 82 percent. There is a story of hope that is as gleaming as the Gospel — the story of Catholic schools. The rate of Catholic school students that graduate from high school on time is 99 percent and 85 percent of graduates go onto college.”

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

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