As you read and hear about the great work Catholic schools are doing in response to this pandemic, please think about how you can help.
A few weeks ago, Gov. Charlie Baker pointed to Catholic Schools as examples of how schools can open safely and best serve students and families, stating, "I mean, there's no better example of that right now than the parochial schools in Massachusetts."
The governor is right. Catholic school teachers and principals put kids and families first and made safe in-person learning a priority. Many Catholic schools serve low-income students and families, and are located largely in urban neighborhoods. These students and families are the very people most impacted by COVID-19, and for whom daily life has become an extraordinary struggle. These families are left wondering what hours will be available to work this week, if lay-offs are coming, and how they can afford this month's tuition payment. These are stressful times for everyone, but especially for those facing economic, housing, and food insecurity.
Since last March, the Catholic Schools Foundation has committed almost $1.5 million in emergency COVID-19 relief in the form of additional scholarship support. This infusion of resources helped over 600 families keep their children in Catholic schools and helped Catholic schools keep their doors open while families are struggling. In many ways, this is no different than in decades past when the sisters, brothers, or priests running schools would give of themselves and their communities to make sure every child could attend the school regardless of their family situation. It is on their shoulders that we do our work.
Many readers of The Pilot benefitted, knowingly or unknowingly, from the generosity of the religious running your school or the support of the parish when they or their children attended Catholic school. Today, rarely do you find in Catholic education large religious communities and parishes with substantial surpluses to support students and families. This is why the Catholic Schools Foundation exists. We exist to provide this new generation of families the opportunity of a quality, student-focused, Gospel-based education that will develop their God-given abilities and help them become responsible members of our society.
As the governor pointed out, Catholic schools are examples. They are examples of what happens when dedicated teachers and principals put kids first. They are examples of caring for the whole student and not just trying to get the minimum done. They are also examples of how to respond with generosity and love, providing examples for the students and families of the love of Christ present in our world today.
During these challenging days, Catholic schools are a beacon of hope not just for the families we serve but for all families who desire a return to some normalcy for their children. Catholic schools have proven that this is possible to do safely.
Even with Catholic schools being there for these students and families, many families are still struggling. Over the last few weeks, the Catholic Schools Foundation received over $230,000 in emergency aid requests from struggling families. Each request is a real student and family facing life-altering challenges and in need of a little help to make it through -- real people who need help. We anticipate this trend will continue as hourly and service workers continue to bear the economic brunt of this pandemic. We must continue to be there for them, but to do so, we need more donors to join us in support.
As many of us gather around the Thanksgiving table, we do so not having wondered where we would get the turkey, if the lights will be shut off, or if the landlord will give a few weeks reprieve on the rent that we just don't have because our hours were cut. These are the issues we hear about from our families, and these are the issues to which we must respond.
As you read and hear about the great work Catholic schools are doing in response to this pandemic, please think about how you can help. Catholic schools are only able to be an example because of the leadership of the teachers and administrators, and the financial support of people who believe in this vital work. This holiday season, I invite you to consider joining the Catholic Schools Foundation and ensuring that Catholic schools continue to serve students and families and serve as an example for years to come.
To learn more or see how you can help, please visit www.csfboston.org.
- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.