The Knights of Columbus Council 9800 awarded $13,000 in scholarships to high school and college students at St. Bridget Parish May 27. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

MESA — The Knights of Columbus at St. Bridget Parish awarded 21 scholarships to local high school and college Catholics Sunday.

The men doled out $13,000, bringing its overall scholarship total to more than $100,000 since the program began more than 10 years ago. Awards ranged from $500 to $1,000.

“It amazes me. I wish I was like these kids when I was their age,” Dennis Schauer, Grand Knight, said as the May 27 award presentation got underway. “These kids are the examples scholastically, athletically, in the community.”

Some applicants went far beyond the required 3.0 grade point average to carry a 4.0 GPA or higher. They also made time for normal school activities plus helped out at the parish and in the community.

“Some of them have literally grown up at the parish. We remember when they were getting their first communion. Then they became altar servers and Eucharistic ministers. You almost hate to see them leave,” Kevin Harris, chairman of the scholarship committee told The Catholic Sun.

The Knights hope the scholarships ease the financial burden of Catholic high school and college. They also hope the awards motivate the teenagers and young adults to stay in touch with the Church.

This year’s college recipients are headed to the University of Notre Dame, Regis University, and Arizona’s universities.

Daniel Cortez is one of them. The Seton Catholic Preparatory High School graduate is headed to Arizona State University to study film and media production. He said it’s important for the Knights to give out scholarships to help Catholic students continue to succeed.

The scholarships were open to parishioners or relatives of parishioners attending a Catholic high school or any college. They were judged on academics, service, outside activities and an essay about how they use their Catholicism in daily life.

Harris, scholarship chairman, was impressed when some of the applicants only used half of the word limit for their essay. He said it was a true measure that they wholly embraced the faith; it wasn’t just lip service.

Harris said it’s tough not being able to give something to all 31 applicants, but said it’s affirming to see the quality of kids out there.

Fr. Scott Brubaker, pastor, agreed. He thanked the scholars for their commitment to learning and developing leadership and Christian witness.

Funds came from the parish’s annual “It’s a Good Life” food and wine tasting event. This year, the newly established Msgr. Bernard Collins Foundation through the Knights of Columbus also kicked in half of the scholarship money.

The Knights of Columbus Council at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Scottsdale was also scheduled to award high school and college scholarships May 27. St. Henry Parish in Buckeye offered 14 scholarships this year — nine collegiate scholarships, four for incoming high school freshman and one from the parish council.