We can act to give hope to others

''I don't know how we will make it work."

This phrase is a common one we hear at the Catholic Schools Foundation during our emergency fund process, especially this past year. Many families who work hard to give their daughters and sons an opportunity in life through a Catholic education are reaching a point where they just can't make that dream possible. No amount of hard work will make it so rent doesn't increase or hours cut due to the pandemic suddenly return. It is not an issue of effort or willingness to sacrifice; it is an issue of access to opportunity. Families at the lower end of the economic spectrum and small business owners have borne the financial brunt of this pandemic, and we continue to see the effects on the students and families we serve.

A typical family served by the Catholic Schools Foundation consists of a single parent with two to three children making around $44,000 a year in an hourly position. These families do not focus on how the stock market has recovered since the lows of March. Their hard-earned money goes to keeping a roof over their head, food on the table, and giving the gift of a Catholic education to their child. A Catholic education matters to these families because they know it will make a difference to the trajectory of their children's lives.

Each year, The Catholic Schools Foundation provides funds to address emergencies that arise among families in Catholic schools. In a typical year, we learn of death, sickness, job loss, incarceration, housing instability and other emergent issues facing families. It is humbling to read these stories and know that amidst the turmoil, families' main concern is how to keep stability and opportunity in their children's lives through a Catholic education. It affirms that Catholic schools truly change lives and give hope. Even in the hardest of days, we must have hope, and we must provide hope to others.

As we move into Holy Week, it is a time to reflect on the suffering of Christ. Visualizing a person we love being falsely accused, wrongly convicted, stripped, beaten, paraded through the streets, mocked, and ultimately crucified as his mother weeps is painful. This could leave one with a sense of hopelessness and sadness, but it is also an extraordinary opportunity for reflection. Reflecting on the Passion calls us to see Christ as a human and challenges us to see the humanity of Christ in each person we encounter.

Reading stories of families in crisis can be painful, but it is not the end. The fact that they are seeking opportunity for their children is a sign of great hope. It is a reminder that we are an Easter people. The Passion of Christ giving way to the promise of the Resurrection.

Each day we have an opportunity to recognize the suffering in others, to see Christ in others, and most importantly, we can act to give hope to others. We are privileged to do this each day at the Catholic Schools Foundation thanks to the donors and supporters who share in our work to give hope to students and families. Because of this, we enter this Easter season with hope and gratitude.

May the hope and joy of Easter fill our hearts and inspire us to see Christ in those around us.

Happy Easter.

- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.