Grants give opportunity to attend Catholic schools

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org
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How do you put a price on getting a Catholic education and playing sports with your older brother.

You can't.

"It's really cool," said Noah Lampros, who describes everything else about his freshman year at St. Pius X High School in Festus as "perfect."

At this time in 2016, he faced an uncertain future in Catholic education, possibly destined for public high school and never getting the chance to play ball with his brother, Luke. His mom, Dione, wanted Catholic education for them and sisters Marie and Lilly, but money was tight, as it is for many households.

Enter the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri. The foundation awarded 174 Beyond Sunday Fellows scholarships for the 2016-17 academic year to ease the financial burden for high school students throughout the archdiocese. Noah Lampros and Trinity Catholic junior Sarah Hisler were among the first recipients.

Sarah's mom, Sandy, described her family — which also includes her husband, Steve, and son, Zach — as "beyond excited" when they learned about the availability of Beyond Sunday scholarships at the high school level.

The scholarship has been "very, very important to us," said Sandy, noting that Zach is a Trinity senior. "With us having two there, I don't know how we could have done it. ... We've just been extremely grateful for the help."

Same with Dione Lampros.

"I can't say, 'Thank you,' enough," she said. "I couldn't have done it without that scholarship."

St. Pius has been a good fit for Noah from the start, dating to his "shadow" day.

"Everybody was so welcoming; the teachers and coaches were super-nice," he said. "It just seemed like a super-loving place. No drama. Everybody gets along."

After Noah chose St. Pius, his family followed. Luke transferred from a private Catholic high school, so Noah got to be his teammate in fall football and gets to do so now in baseball. Further, Noah's family moved from Chesterfield into what he called "a perfect house" in Festus, where Marie and Lilly attend the school at Our Lady Parish.

"Everything just worked out so nice; the scholarship really helped," he said. "It gave me an opportunity to attend a Catholic high school and to grow my relationship with God."

The Fellows' service component ranks among Noah's highlights. The Fellows volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis, handing out lunches, organizing the food pantry and more. Noah acknowledged the practical aspect of getting service hours but also embraced social justice and social aspects — serving those in need and meeting peers with the same desire. Dione also views the Fellows' service as "a way to give back for getting the scholarship, to show appreciation."

Sarah Hisler likewise gives the Fellows' service a high ranking. In fact, her brother and father put themselves to work when picking her up on a recent Saturday.

"The last thing we did was make sandwiches for the next day, and they got there early and helped," said Sarah, no stranger to volunteerism. In the past seven months, she has logged about 100 volunteer hours in the labor and delivery department at SSM Health DePaul Hospital. In addition to receptionist duties, she answers non-medical patient calls and gets the primo assignment of transporting patients and newborns to their cars. She also has led a class for new moms and their babies.

Her service is in addition to numerous activities at Trinity — National Honor Society, drama club, choir and more. She works, too — two days a week in the after-school program at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.

"Social since the day I was born," she also credits Catholic education for teaching her "at a very young age to be a team player, and how to accept everybody and be kind to everybody."

Through the Beyond Sunday scholarships, Catholic education continues for her, Noah and many others.

>> Beyond Sunday By the numbers

Twenty five parishes are still active in the Beyond Sunday campaign, which is intended to transform Catholic education throughout the archdiocese and invest in parishes. Sixty percent of Beyond Sunday pledges will build the Beyond Sunday Education Fund, which will award scholarships and school grants well into the future; the other 40 percent will go back to individual parishes to address local needs.

Goal • $100 million

Pledges to date • $94 million

Parish distributions • $10.7 million will have been distributed back to parishes, as of March 15

Scholarships • $1.8 million in Beyond Sunday scholarships have been awarded to more than 1,100 elementary or high school students for the 2016-2017 school year

Grants • $250,000 Transformational Innovation grant has been awarded to the Catholic Education Office to implement an integrated, archdiocesan-wide Catholic education marketing campaign leading into the 2017-18 academic year. In addition, 54 applications were received in competition for $750,000 in Academic Capacity Enhancement and Transformational Innovation grants to parish or archdiocesan schools for the next school year. Grants will be awarded in mid-March.

Source: Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri 

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