Our Lady of Ransom Scholarship Fund

Below is an excerpt from Father De Celles’ Column on 8/22/21

Our Lady of Ransom Scholarship Fund. I consider our efforts to raise money to assist families in either homeschooling or sending their kids to Catholic schools to be one of the most important endeavors of our parish at this time. I know that many parents do an excellent job of directing their kids through the public schools so as to keep their faith and recognize the many lies they are being taught. Some of these kids become zealous and active defenders of Christian and American values. But it takes a real, active and concerted effort to overcome the government/public school efforts to indoctrinate kids in an anti/un-Christian anti/un-American understanding of the world. So it is imperative that we assist those parents who want to remove their kids from this abuse by providing some financial assistance for alternative education.

            I’m calling this effort the “Our Lady of Ransom Scholarship Fund,” remembering the story depicted in the mural in our sanctuary of Our Lady appearing to St. Raymond, asking him to help found a religious order (The “Mercedarians”) that would organize the ransom of Christians who had been kidnapped (usually onboard ships) by Moorish raiders and either held for ransom or forced into slavery or to renounce their Catholic faith. The Mercedarians were to do this either by raising funds, negotiating or by offering themselves in exchange for their captured Christian brothers and sisters.

            How similar this is to our situation today. We need to do everything we can to free our children from those who seek to enslave and convert them to the strange ideology of the radical left, call it Wokism, Marxism, or Secularism.

            I don’t like to “hard sell” when it comes to raising money, because I always trust in your generosity and kindness. Which means that when I DO “hard sell” it means I really believe in the cause, and see a grave need.

            What better work of charity can we do?

            I’ve thought about starting our own school. I will keep thinking about that, but it really doesn’t seem very feasible, for so many reasons. One being the fact that we don’t have much land on our campus, and buying more land in the area would be extremely expensive. Moreover, the cost of building would be over $5 million. And besides, I don’t think the county would even permit the construction on our property, given our small acreage.

            So it seems to me, at this time, the best we can do is give scholarships. Two weeks ago, when I last ran the numbers, we’d given scholarships to 37 families for 86 kids (9 schools and 3 homeschooling families) for a total of $110,000 for the coming school year. Since then we’ve given several more scholarships—just this morning I approved $8000.

            So far this year (beginning July 1, 2021) we have raised $22,363 from 23 families to support these scholarships (note, a good portion of the scholarships for the coming year were paid in the last months of the last fiscal year, ending June 30, 2021). This is pretty good: we are averaging $1766 a week, plus a $10,000 gift. At that rate we would raise $101,839 in 12 months.

            But consider this: as noted above, if we actually built a school, it would cost $5 million. Assuming we financed 100% of that, it would cost us over $600,000 a year to pay off that loan (over 10 years). And parish schools are usually subsidized by their parishioners anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000. So, it would cost us at least $700,000 a year to operate a school for the first 10 years. That’s a heck of a lot of money.

            So instead, let’s do scholarships. But we can do better than we are doing to fund these scholarships. Maybe we can’t raise $700,000 a year, but we can do better than $101,839.

            And let’s be ambitious, at least with our hopes and dreams. Last year we had about 170 public school kids enrolled in grade school CCD, and 30 in high school CCD (numbers were down because of Covid). Using these as a starting point for parents who might be eligible for assistance (in reality, the numbers are much higher), it would cost about $1.3 million to provide full scholarships to Catholic schools for these kids. What if we could raise $500,000 a year? We could provide scholarships for over 1/3 of the cost of Catholic tuition, and some 100% scholarships, and help support scores of homeschoolers offset the direct costs of their education. Wouldn’t that be great! And frankly, what better use could you put your money to?

            We’re talking about the salvation of souls here. Catholic schooling and homeschooling carry no guarantees, but it seems the best investment we can make to help our kids to stay close to Jesus, and not be corrupted by the abusive ideologies the culture is trying to indoctrinate them in.

            Every month, in the envelope/offertory package you receive from the parish you will find an envelope with the label “Our Lady of Ransom Scholarship Fund,” (for the next 2 months the envelope will read “Catholic Schools Scholarship Fund”). Please be generous.