Whatever the size of the grandson's scholarship, it pales in comparison to what the grandfather gave us.
As a kid, I couldn't wait for Thanksgiving. This had nothing to do with my love for turkey and mashed potatoes, but everything to do with Thanksgiving being the official start of the holiday giving season. And by giving, I was thinking about what would be given to me.
Years later, my view has changed. Don't get me wrong, I still love the giving season, but for different reasons.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, hundreds of donors send gifts to the Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF) to support our mission of providing a high-quality, Catholic education to at-risk young people throughout the Archdiocese of Boston. Although technically CSF receives these gifts, CSF is simply entrusted with these resources to support the 4,000 students receiving scholarships through the Catholic Schools Foundation. It is a true joy to see the generosity of so many who believe in the work of Catholic education and know that a small investment in a child today will positively impact the life of that student and their family for years to come.
Recently, 200 elementary school students, their families, school leaders, and CSF donors gathered for Mass with Cardinal Seán. These students, current scholarship recipients with financial need, were selected as Peter Lynch (PL) Scholars by their principals as students committed to their schools, demonstrating exceptional leadership and service to their community. The Mass celebrated the students' selection as PL Scholars, but also was a reassuring reminder that these bright and faith-filled young people are the future of our Church and our world.
After Mass, a grandfather came up to the CSF board chair and me to thank the foundation for the opportunity his grandson has to attend a Catholic school. His daughter is a single mom who cannot make ends meet and the scholarship from CSF makes his grandson's Catholic education possible. As he spoke, the grandfather began to tear up and walked away. He came back a short time later and apologized for being emotional and he thanked us again. Whatever the size of the grandson's scholarship, it pales in comparison to what the grandfather gave us. We received the knowledge that his grandson is surrounded by a supportive school, a family that loves him and that the scholarship support entrusted to CSF by our donors is making a difference. It was an amazing moment.
Amazing moments like this are only possible because of the people who join us in support of the Catholic Schools Foundation and because of the legacy of the religious sisters on whom the foundation for Catholic education was built. These women, through their service, made a high-quality Catholic education accessible and affordable for all families. Today, generous benefactors help fill the role of providing access that the sisters once provided through their lives of service. We are grateful to each donor and invite others to join us and receive the joy of giving and the knowledge you are making a difference.
The Catholic Schools Foundation will provide over $10 million in support to Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston this school year. Through this, I am given the great gift of hearing our 4,000 scholarship recipients' stories, meeting our incredible teachers and principals, and joyfully knowing that these resources fulfill the Catholic Schools Foundation's mission of "building minds and changing lives."
So, in the end, I guess I still do love holiday giving season because of what is given to me, but maybe that is ok.
- Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.