'Beyond Sunday': Roman Catholic Foundation campaign to provide for Catholic education

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

In what is being hailed as an "historic fund-raising initiative," the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri launches a campaign Monday, June 1, that will make Catholic education more affordable.

The "Beyond Sunday" campaign, which will be conducted over the next two years, hopes to raise more than $100 million to build a war chest that will not only aid students from low- and middle-income families but also benefit programs or schools that enhance the already strong curriculum at Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The Education Fund, as dubbed by the foundation, will be similar to endowments at major universities in which interest funds financial assistance. However, from 2016 through 2020, the Roman Catholic Foundation is authorized for "enhanced spending" -- i.e. distribution -- of as much as $5 million per year for scholarships, programs or schools. Then, according to the foundation, the education fund "will revert to endowment distribution rates." The Roman Catholic Foundation will manage money raised in the initiative.

After his arrival six years ago, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson established education as a priority. With 140 schools (elementary, secondary and special education), more than 40,000 students reap the benefits of Catholic education in the archdiocese.

"Catholic education is ... essential to the long-term vitality of our faith and to the communities they serve," Archbishop Carlson stated, adding that it plays "an essential role in the spiritual development of our children and the economic development of places where we live, work and pray."

Established in 2013, the Roman Catholic Foundation will take over where the Today And Tomorrow Educational Foundation leaves off, helping to fill the void between TTEF scholarship recipients and wealthy families. Though some families might be unable to afford Catholic tuition outright, as wealthier families do, their resources might be too much to qualify for assistance through TTEF, which aids families in which tuition costs make Catholic education a non-starter without financial help.

Squeezed from the top and bottom of the financial spectrum, families might have to choose between sending their children to Catholic grade school or Catholic high school, but not both. Worse, they might be priced out of Catholic education altogether and forgo it for the entirety of their children's K-12 experience. Catholic families already feel this pinch, and Archbishop Carlson has addressed it with the Roman Catholic Foundation.

In the fund-raising campaign over the next couple of years, the foundation will solicit Catholics in the Archdiocese to make a pledge over a five-year period, to "pay it forward," as it were. Maybe they benefited from financial support in receiving Catholic education. Or maybe they simply see the value of Catholic education and want to pass it on to future generations.

Whatever their reasons, the payoff will support Catholic education and the Church in St. Louis for years to come. Later, parishes and agencies throughout the archdiocese also will benefit from the foundation's funds, in addition to education.

Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri

What: "Beyond Sunday" campaign

Contact: (314) 918-2890; www.rcfstl.org, www.beyondsundaystl.org 

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