Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,
Two years ago, the Diocese hired the Stier group to conduct a feasibility study for a Diocesan wide capital campaign in support of Catholic Schools and religious education within parishes. In our Diocese we have 36 Catholic schools (one of which just opened this year in Saline) and 4 regional High Schools spread across our 10 counties. That is roughly a school at half of our parishes. Not all places are covered equally—for instance Sacred Heart is the only Catholic school in Hillsdale and Lenawee counties. During that study the Stier group interviewed pastors, principals, and many, many parishioners from around the Diocese both at parishes with schools and those without.
The study found wide support for the campaign, which has been named Stewardship for Saints and Scholars. This effort seeks to attract, form, train and retain excellent, faithful teachers and administrators at parish elementary and diocesan high schools (On Mission), to substantially grow the financial assistance available to families (Affordable), and to improve assistance for children with additional learning needs, while also providing funds to enhance regional services through the four diocesan high schools (Accessible). Additionally, there is a component for each parish to address local needs either in supporting their own school, faith formation, or other needs. I want to highlight a few of the goals of this upcoming campaign:
1. Raise funds for helping train and retain teachers. To be a teacher is a calling to play an incredibly important role in a child’s life. That is even more true within a Catholic School when they work for lower pay.
2. Build an endowment to increase the scholarships available for students at our schools at both the elementary/middle school level and high school level. We have striven to keep our tuition low at Sacred Heart to make it as accessible as possible. The successful building of this fund would be a great blessing for generations to come, helping families not just in our community but throughout the Diocese attend a Catholic School. This is very similar to the foresight of the many parishioners who helped build and continue to support the Fr. Ruddy Trust fund in support of Sacred Heart School—a foresight I am deeply grateful for.
3. Help our parishes address their own local needs in whatever that might be. For example, at Sacred Heart we have been working on building a fund for our next major project which is to replace the windows. They have been there since the 80’s and have reached the end of their lifespan. For each parish these needs will be different—taking care of building a program to support homeschooling families, bolstering the religious education program as a whole, or simply addressing a capital need. Much like Witness to Hope helped individual parishes, so will this campaign.
It is exciting to be part of a venture that will have such a long-lasting impact. By the very fact of the existence of our parishes and school, we can look back to others who provided for us without necessarily benefiting themselves. For much of my life I was in no position to support this kind of campaign monetarily. I simply benefited from the generosity that supported my own education in a Catholic School and then through Seminary. I am grateful that I can now start doing my part for others. The Diocese launched Stewardship for Saints and Scholars this November with a silent phase. More details will be following.