Lisbeth Maldonado, a senior at Xavier College Preparatory, had to work two jobs to help finance her Catholic school education and support her family. Now with tuition assistance, she’s able cut back.
“Financial assistance made it easy for me to focus on school,” she said at the Night of Hope Nov. 7, an annual fundraiser that supports tuition assistance for students throughout the diocese, and held this year in her school’s gymnasium.
While the total amount raised wasn’t available at press time, 50 percent of the funds go towards immediate scholarship needs, while the other 50 percent is placed in an endowment fund for future need.
In his opening remarks, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted thanked the Catholic school students for actively living their faith.
“He sends them to be His witnesses today, at this time in history,” he said, “and not just … so they’ll be great in college, and after college, but right now. They’re a blessing because of the way they’re living their faith.”
MaryBeth Mueller, superintendent of diocesan schools added, “We celebrate the children as we gather tonight, to support them as they are the future of our Church, our nation and the world.”
Mueller also presented the Guardian of Hope Awards to longtime diocesan school board member Margaret Gillespie and posthumously to Mike and Cissy Frakes. Cissy had previously served as the diocese’s associate superintendent of schools. Three of their four sons accepted the award on their parents’ behalf.
“It’s so nice to see so many of my parents’ friends here tonight. … Mom cared deeply for all her students,” said oldest son Tim. “Our parents made many sacrifices in order to provide a Catholic education.”
Sr. Julie Kubasak, DC, shared from her experience as principal at St. Vincent de Paul School, where she served before being called back to her order to serve as provincial councilor.
“Really when it came down to it, most people were afraid they couldn’t afford it,” she said, recalling asking parishioners why their children weren’t enrolled in the school.
In response, she organized a team to find ways to articulate the mission of Catholic schools, “so we could tell people that Catholic education is available, affordable and accessible, … and if you come here we’ll work with whatever your circumstances are to help your children get a Catholic education.”
The efforts paid off as the school continued to increase its enrollment through the years.
The benefits students receive aren’t limited to the financial realm. Sophia Drapeau, a junior at St. Mary’s High School, said that faith life is interwoven in every aspect of school life, and that she wouldn’t be able to experience that without tuition assistance.
“It’s very special to have God as an integral part of your school day,” she said.