For 30 years, the Catholic Schools Foundation has worked to invest in the lives of young people and ensure students and families today have access to the life-changing opportunity of a quality Catholic education.
Sportscaster Al Michaels' coverage of the 1989 World Series, as the San Francisco Earthquake hit, and the fall of the Berlin Wall are two moments from 1989 etched in my brain. It is hard to believe this was 30 years ago. Mostly, it is difficult to believe that I am 30 years older than when those moments occurred.
Another, less well-known event from 1989 is the formation of the Catholic Schools Foundation in the Archdiocese of Boston. Formed from the St. Anthony Fund, which was founded six years earlier, the establishment of the Catholic Schools Foundation was a critical moment in the life of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Boston. Those original benefactors, led by Paul Birmingham, declared that Catholic schools were worthy of support and their effort and leadership has positively impacted tens of thousands of students and families over the last 30 years, and has become a stabilizing force for Catholic schools in the archdiocese.
For 30 years, the Catholic Schools Foundation has worked to invest in the lives of young people and ensure students and families today have access to the life-changing opportunity of a quality Catholic education. Our donors are not sitting back lamenting the decline in vocations to religious life or decline in parish life. No, our supporters, Catholic and non-Catholic, individuals and corporations, see the importance of Catholic schools and commit to making them available to students and families.
Just as it is individuals who give life to the Catholic Schools Foundation, it is the collective commitment of teachers, principals, pastors, and religious orders that give life to Catholic schools. Acting individually around a shared mission, the impact is thriving schools, where children, especially at-risk children, receive the tools to succeed in life. Yes, they receive first-class academics, but even more importantly, they receive the sense of hope that comes from knowing that they are a gift from God. Catholic schools are the women and men who share their gifts and talents each day to educate young people. Without them, there are no Catholic schools, just empty buildings.
The collective work of Catholic education has become more difficult over the last 30 years. No longer do the majority of schools, through the parish or sponsoring religious community, provide a subsidy for every family. Those days are long over, replaced by a collective commitment by others who believe in this work and commit their resources to build on the strong base established by the religious, pastors, and parishes over the first century of Catholic schools. Despite the best efforts of so many, there are thousands of families each year unable to afford a Catholic education for their children.
There is still more work to be done. Until no child is turned away because of their inability to pay, we will not have replaced the legacy of the religious and parishes that made it possible for all families to attend Catholic schools. Our work is cut out for us, but 30 years later, we stand on the shoulders of those who laid the foundation for Catholic education and the donors who answered the call. Today, we need more people to join us in this vital work. People are what make all of this possible and the Catholic Schools Foundation is nothing without our donors and supporters.
"Building minds and changing lives" is the motto of the Catholic Schools Foundation, but for the teachers, school staff, pastors, religious sponsors, this is what they do each day. We are proud to support this work and hope others will join us as we look towards the next 30 years. To learn more about the Catholic Schools Foundation, visit csfboston.org.
- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.