$1.1M in scholarships from generous donors granted to 450 students since 2020 through Catholic Foundation of Michigan
DETROIT — Thanks to the generosity of donors across southeast Michigan, $1.1 million in scholarships have been awarded to 450 students across 46 schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit since 2020.
The St. Anne Scholars and St. Martin de Porres scholarship funds, coupled with the Fehring Family Fund, were established in 2020 as a way for Catholic families to afford a Catholic education amidst the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Angela Moloney, president and CEO of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, which facilitates the scholarship funds.
“We had some families who came to us and said, 'We need to make sure our Catholic schools are thriving and are as amazing as they always have been,'” Moloney said Sept. 26 during a scholarship granting ceremony at Holy Redeemer School in Detroit. “They wanted to make sure families who were struggling had the opportunity to go to our schools."
The Catholic Foundation worked with pastors and principals to identify families in the community who could benefit from the scholarships, the funds for which were given by individuals and families with the intention of supporting Catholic education, Moloney said.
Moloney joined Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron in handing out 14 scholarships totaling $30,000 to Holy Redeemer students who were part of the parish community but whose families needed financial assistance to cover tuition costs.
Several donors were on hand for the celebration, and Archbishop Vigneron addressed the students, asking them to give thanks to God and to the donors who made it possible for them to join the Holy Redeemer School family.
“I’m very proud of you, and I’m very particularly proud of Sr. Kateri (Burbee, SOLT, principal of Holy Redeemer School) and the other sisters and teachers at this school,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “I’m really proud of Fr. Dennis (Walsh, SOLT, pastor at Holy Redeemer) and the brothers; I know they care for you very much. But I’m very proud of you and your families, and I give God thanks for being here at Holy Redeemer School. I’m confident that this school will help you be very good citizens and very good Catholics, so thank you so much for being part of our school.”
Since 2020, a total of 80 scholarships totaling $160,000 have been awarded to students at Holy Redeemer, a school in Detroit’s Mexicantown neighborhood that today serves a community that’s mostly Hispanic.
Sr. Burbee said the scholarships have allowed the school to make Catholic education more accessible for families part of the Most Holy Redeemer Parish community and with other parishes in the Southwest 2 Family of Parishes, which include neighboring St. Cunegunda and St. Gabriel parishes.
“We have such a growing number of Catholics who are parishioners but don’t have the financial means to come to Holy Redeemer,” Sr. Burbee said. “The scholarships have really allowed us to have new students and to expand our school community, especially among our Family of Parishes. On behalf of the students, I personally want to thank you and thank the foundation for allowing more students to be at Holy Redeemer.”
Holy Redeemer students sang for the archbishop and the donors, and sixth-grader Mateo De Jesus Pulido addressed the crowd, thanking the foundation for the scholarships on behalf of his classmates.
“I’m very happy to come to this school, but I’m learning more about Jesus and growing in friendship with Him,” Pulido said. “Being at Holy Redeemer is helping me become a better person and a better Catholic. Since I have been here, I’ve made friends. This work is more challenging, but I find it to be fun. My sisters and I love being at this school to experience new things. I’m grateful for the generosity of the people to give me this opportunity to come to Holy Redeemer and grow in my faith.”
Sr. Burbee said the scholarships have been a blessing for the teachers at Holy Redeemer as well, allowing the school to be a better vehicle for evangelization in southwest Detroit.
“Holy Redeemer has been here since 1882 and really is a landmark in southwest Detroit,” Sr. Burbee said. “We’ve always been a neighborhood school — now serving predominately Hispanic families — and it’s been a blessing how families that are coming to church here are desiring to send their kids to Catholic schools. The students are helping me in growing in my faith because their parents are really raising them in the faith. So it’s been a blessing.”
The Catholic Foundation of Michigan has been organizing similar events at schools throughout the Archdiocese of Detroit, giving donors a chance to see what their philanthropy is supporting, and giving students a chance to thank their benefactors.
The donors on the scholarship granting committees had to chance to read essays from students on why they wanted to attend a Catholic school, but seeing the students in person makes the connection all the more special, Moloney said.
“For those who had the opportunity to read those beautiful scholarship applications, we get to hear those beautiful stories,” Moloney said. “For many of us, Catholic education came as a gift, and many of us, like myself, didn’t always appreciate how beautiful it was. I think these kids here definitely appreciate it.”
Donor Helen Vlasic and her husband, Mike, were at Holy Redeemer School to greet the students and applaud the teachers for their work in crafting disciples.
“When I come in here, I feel such love and peacefulness. You and your teachers love Jesus so much,” Vlasic said. “Your love of your school and your love of each other is made pretty clear, and it makes me really happy because not all schools are like that. This is a really special place.”
Vlasic expressed the joy she and other supporters had in reading the scholarship essays, saying it reassured them their support of Catholic education went hand in hand with evangelization.
“My husband and I have come to feel like our job as Catholics is to get people to know Jesus more, and we call that evangelization,” Vlasic said. “We feel like this scholarship program is a way to help evangelization in Detroit. We’re really honored to be part of this program. On behalf of all of us, we wish you, the students, teachers, and principal a very happy, healthy, faith-filled school year. You will be in our prayers.”