Dear sisters & brothers in Christ,
I pray this letter finds you well. No doubt by now, you have heard of Archbishop Carlson's latest capital campaign, "Beyond Sunday." Not only does he expect this to be his last campaign, but I believe it will also be his legacy to the children of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. While we sometimes take our Catholic School System for granted, each time a new bishop comes to town we are reminded just how fortunate we are to have this treasure. Many diocese are lucky if they have one or two schools, while we are the largest school system in the state of Missouri. And while it is indeed a great treasure, which many of you and/or your children have probably benefited from, it is also a great financial burden. As many Catholic schools are being closed here and throughout the country, Archbishop Carlson has been hard at work developing a plan that will hopefully save this legacy for future generations. His basic plan is simple, fill the desks with any child that wants a Catholic education.
We are all aware of the skyrocketing cost of education. There are many factors at play, but many people still believe a Catholic School education is worth the sacrifice. While visiting one of the students at Central Catholic, who was being raised by a single mother, Sr. Gail discovered that their small apartment consisted of a single mattress on the floor and a folding table and three mismatched chairs in the kitchen. Despite all the sacrifices it required, her mother told us that her daughter's education was her top priority. Another mother came to us after her son had been kicked out of a string of schools. She promised that she would work with him and do anything we asked if we would only give him another chance. Staying true to her word, he not only graduated from Central Catholic, but went on to graduate from a military academy at the top of his class. I could of course go on and on.
While there are some scholarships that help low-income families, like those I mentioned, the current problem facing our school system is that many middle class families (who are the life-blood of the Catholic school system) can no longer afford it. Parish's that used to offer discounts are finding it harder and harder to do. Many pastors have expressed concerns that their schools are draining both the money and volunteer hours from their parish.
And so, the goal of the Beyond Sunday Campaign is to establish a fund that will generate scholarships. Some of the funds will also be used to insure that our schools are competitive with other schools in areas like technology. We are one of the last parishes to launch the campaign, which to date has over 80 million dollars in pledges. You will soon be receiving information on how you too can be a part of this effort to guarantee that our Catholic schools will be educating our children for generations to come. I ask that you please give this the attention that it deserves and pray over what level you and your family will be participating. May God bless this endeavor and our desire to raise our children in the faith, so that they may know who, and whose, they are.
In the Redeemer,