By: Sheila O’Hagan McGirl, CFRE
Catholic education is a gift, pressed down and overflowing.
My family’s experience with Catholic education has impacted us on so many levels. Our lives are better because of Catholic schools.
Raising children, they need to experience our beautiful faith. My husband and I were committed to providing a Catholic education for our children because we are grateful for our Catholic Schools experience. We hoped to teach our children to live well, serve well, and impact lives. We wanted our children also to be challenged and guided in faith and gospel values.
Catholic education is infused with love, respect, forgiveness, service, compassion, and responsibility. Providing our four children with the benefits of Catholic education was a priority for us. However, as we were planning, tragedy struck. My husband became disabled. He was unable to work and was physically and cognitively impaired. A hardworking mechanical engineer, he was now incapable of working again. And, I, at the time, was a stay-at-home Mom. Ultimately, I turned to my pastor for help and began working for church (where my journey, working for the diocese, formed). While I was grateful to be working, I was not making enough money to cover tuition for my children.
Our family needed help. Thankfully, we were able to keep our children in their Catholic schools. Our family received tuition assistance. It was tough to be on the receiving end and to accept this gift. At the time, a priest friend of our family counseled me, “accept the help – you may be someone else’s path to heaven”. Receiving that helping hand was/is a dream come true for our family. I am incredibly grateful for the good people who donated to the tuition assistance fund when my family needed a helping hand. Our faith was indeed strengthened – and the experience impacted my career path. I am now the Director of Development for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington.
Not only were my children provided a first-class education that yielded scholarships when the older ones headed to college, but it also taught them the importance of caring for the community and supporting those around them. My two oldest children pursued careers in television journalism. When you ask them why they chose these fields, they respond: they want to tell stories that impact people. They hope to shine a light on powerful stories of perseverance or injustice, help someone in need, and give a voice to the voiceless. Our third oldest son works in the service industry, where he encounters many poverty-stricken people. He engages them with compassion and does his best to provide for some of their needs and connect them to people who may help. Our youngest is a sophomore in high school, and the importance of community service is instilled in her. All four of our children enjoy helping others, and now I can pay full tuition for our youngest child. Our family is grateful to have the opportunity to ‘give back in the service of others.
We are reminded every day of the kindnesses extended to us. Everybody needs a little help sometimes. I know my children will continue to give back and impact lives. Catholic schools teach our young people: we are all in this together – and helping one another is vital! Catholic education is a gift, pressed down and overflowing.
For more information on how you may be able to help a family like ours – with a helping hand – contact: [email protected] or call: (302) 573-3121.