TRANSFORMING LIVES, BUILDING CHARACTER
Our commitment to Catholic education in the Diocese of San Diego is demonstrated by the $1mm of financial support to fund tuition assistance for our families in need.
WHY THE BISHOP FLORES SCHOLARS?
In the first year of our program, over 900 students in both our Catholic elementary and secondary schools throughout the Diocese of San Diego received financial assistance.
Six principles define the Bishop Flores Scholars and its desire to serve low and middle-income families.
“It is essential that every possible effort be made to ensure that Catholic schools, despite financial difficulties, continue to provide “a Catholic education to the poor and the marginalized in society”. It will never be possible to free the needy from their poverty unless they are first freed from the impoverishment arising from the lack of adequate education.”
– Pope Saint John Paul II
In generations past, the sacrifice to attend Catholic schools was born by parents and grandparents – many of them first or second-generation immigrants who were determined to send their children to Catholic schools. Their sacrifice was matched by the dedication and hard work of the religious sisters, brothers and priests who staffed the schools.
Today, we live in a different world. We have fewer priests and religious in our schools. Families have fewer children, and many young families have moved from urban communities to the suburbs. Our schools struggle to keep up with increased competition and the rising cost of providing a quality Catholic education while making it both affordable and accessible.
“We don’t educate the children because they are Catholic; we educate them because we are Catholic”
– The Late Cardinal James A. Hickey, Former Archbishop of Washington, D.C.
The world has changed, but the value of Catholic education has not! It works because we help create better people for our Church and the world.
A DOZEN REASONS TO SUPPORT CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:
These families tell us the stories of love, sacrifice, and commitment with a deep sense of gratitude for what they have received – the formation of their children instilled with Catholic values, so that one day they may contribute to society as globally aware citizens.
“Young people of the third millennium must be a source of energy and leadership in our Church and our nation. By equipping our young people with a sound education, rooted in the Gospel message, the Person of Jesus Christ, and rich in the cherished traditions and liturgical practices of our faith, we ensure that they have the foundation to live morally and uprightly in our complex modern world.”
– Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and
Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium” U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Strong faith and good moral values are very important to Angie and her family. Angie has three daughters and three sons, ages nine through seventeen, and one of her daughters has Spina Bifida. Homeless with six kids is an unfathomable situation for anyone, but Angie still manages to stay positive. Unfortunate circumstances like her husband becoming disabled from a stroke and losing their house have brought them to this point.
Angie felt that uncontrollable factors were causing her children to doubt their faith. She wanted her children to be surrounded by people who share their Catholic faith, but she did not have the funds to send them to Catholic school. Angie turned to the Church for guidance. Mrs. Minton, the Principal at St. Jude’s, was there to help. She worked with Angie to make this dream possible. It was hard for the Nieves family when St. Jude’s closed down, but the community at St Patrick’s has been loving and supportive of Angie and her family. Tuition assistance has allowed the Nieves children to attend Catholic school at St. Patrick’s. She currently has three kids attending, but has had up to five kids there at once. Despite all of her hardships, Angie still has a positive outlook on life. She sees all of these challenges as more of a blessing than a sacrifice. “It is all about being rich in faith, not rich in life,” Angie said.
The Catholic community has been so supportive of Angie and her family. She refers to them as her second family. Angie’s kids are shy and participating in Mass twice each week has helped build their confidence. They are surrounded by other kids who have the same values and morals.
The Church is her heart right now, her safe haven.
It had always been Diana Garcia’s dream to attend Catholic school. Though that dream never materialized, the 38-year-old single mother has sacrificed much to make that dream a reality for her children. “We are a non-traditional, broken family,” Diana said. “We are not perfect, my choices have not always been good, but I believe you can always take positive steps toward the future.”
Her children’s education is, and always has been, her top priority, which has depleted Diana’s retirement savings. One measure she has taken to reduce her family’s expenses is sharing one bedroom with her daughters in her mother’s house. Despite her financial sacrifices, if it had not been for financial aid assistance, it would have been a steep challenge to pay for her children’s education. Diana’s eldest is 14 years old, recently graduated from Our Lady’s School and will be starting 9th grade at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace this fall. Diana’s 10 year old will be entering 5th grade at Our Lady’s School.
She hadn’t always planned to send her children to Catholic elementary or high school, but once they finished preschool, she couldn’t fathom taking her girls out of the Catholic school environment that had begun to feel like a home away from home. “The best part of Catholic schools is that you aren’t just enrolling your kids in school, you are becoming part of a family,” she said.
She believes that her daughters are more globally aware than she was at their age because of their Catholic education. Her daughters have big dreams of attending major universities like NYU and Notre Dame. They aim high and look forward to successful careers.
“The best legacy I can leave is two quality individuals that are going to contribute to society,” she said. Her children are charitable and philanthropic – always sacrificing their own material items for the good of others.
“We are now raising socially conscious children who understand the bigger problems of our society,” Diana said. “That is why I sacrifice so much and why my kids have big ambitions and big dreams.”
Nguyen grew up in poverty in Vietnam. After his father was captured by the North Vietnamese while serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, Nguyen was sent to the United States to avoid being forced into the North Vietnamese Army. He was alone and only 12 years old. He was adopted and lived in San Francisco for a couple of years before moving to San Diego in 1981. He attended Hoover High School and received a scholarship to UCSD, where he attended for three years.
“Catholic school students learn that God is present and active in their lives and in the world. They learn to recognize the “footprints of God” in their daily experiences, especially in the midst of life’s challenges. They develop a sense of “Sacramental Awareness.” They see the signs of God’s love around them, and become instruments of God’s grace in their own neighborhoods, communities, and the world.”
– Reverend Ronald J. Nuzzi, Ph.D., Director of Catholic Leadership Programs
Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE), University of Notre Dame
Today, Nguyen has four children aged 25, 23, 21 and 14. Although he was not raised Catholic, the children’s mother is Catholic. All of the children have attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through high school and Nguyen has attended Mass with his family every Sunday for the past 20 years. The reason they sent their children to Catholic school was the faith-filled environment and being surrounded by a group of families with the same moral values and beliefs.
“It is a community with a spiritual life we share and watch out for each other – it is our safety net, and without this there is no unity,” he said.
Salvador’s 12-year-old son is an exemplary student. He has consistently earned awards for his academic excellence, but there was one important subject that Salvador felt was missing from his son’s public education – religious studies. Salvador believes that learning the history of the bible helps people better love themselves and others. This is so important in Salvador’s mind that he would happily sacrifice in order to send his son to Catholic school.
Salvador is a double-amputee from the knees down. He is disabled for life and unable to work, but is grateful for his life and keeps a positive outlook. He and his family have always attended St. Rita’s parish and are very involved in the community. Salvador’s son is an altar server at the church. His daughter works at the parish office and volunteers for bingo. His other daughter has worked with Sister Margaret and Sister Jean. In addition to a full-time job, Salvador’s wife volunteers for the St. Rita’s bazaar and other fundraising events each year.
After finishing public elementary school, Salvador gave his son the option to switch to Catholic school and his son chose to attend St. Rita’s. The family’s economic hardship has not kept Salvador’s son from attending Catholic school. St. Rita’s was able to offer the family tuition assistance so he could continue his studies. Salvador has noticed that since his son started at St. Rita’s his academic performance has improved even more. The curriculum is more challenging and his son has to work harder than he did in public school. Catholic school has also taught him to be polite, friendly and respectful.
Salvador has high expectations for his son and expects him to continue on to a good university, a successful career, and be a well-rounded, good person.
Martha and her family have always been very involved in the St. Charles Catholic School community. Martha attended St. Charles from kindergarten through eighth grade. Her sister taught at St. Charles for seven years as a kindergarten teacher and her mother was a teacher’s aide there for more twenty years.
Since Martha attended St. Charles, she felt it was only natural for her to send her two children there. Her son is going into 2nd grade and her daughter will start 5th grade this fall. When she went to visit the campus before enrolling her children, she said it felt like “home.”
As a single-mother raising two children, Martha has made sacrifices to put her kids in Catholic school. She lives with her parents and drives a fifteen-year old car. She and her children do without a lot of the extras, like going out to dinner and to the movies. However, Martha believes investing in our young Catholics is extremely important for our community.
Without tuition assistance Martha would not have been able to send her children to St. Charles, or any other private school for that matter, but Martha believes education is the key to her success, as well as her children’s success. It will help them to be self-sufficient. She is grateful that tuition assistance is available to her family because she knows how much it will impact their future.
Reading at levels two to three years above their own grade levels, Martha’s children are very intelligent and hard working. Her children do not have a sense of entitlement, which, in turn, keeps them grounded. They are aware that they can give back and help others.
Tuition assistance has taken off some of the additional financial stress that Martha and her family experience. She still has to make sacrifices, but now her kids can participate in extracurricular activities with their friends after school. These activities help them to develop and become well rounded.
“Wanting to give back” is something that she and her kids both learned in Catholic school.