by The Leaven
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — “I knew that we needed to make a change, but my income was stretched to its limit,” Jessica Woosley shared with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and others over dinner at the archbishop’s home here on Dec. 19.
Through teary eyes, Woosley admitted that when she and her husband experienced the loss of a child, it impacted her faith and her parenting. She yearned for the supportive Catholic community she’d grown up with as a student at Holy Trinity School in Paola. But she didn’t think they could afford tuition for their two sons until a teacher at Holy Trinity told her about scholarships available through the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF).
“Them going to Catholic school helped pull me back to the faith,” said Woosley. “I needed that. And now, they’re flourishing in this faith-centered environment.”
The other parents around the dinner table could relate. Like Woosley, their children were attending Catholic schools thanks to scholarships from CEF.
CEF provides need-based scholarships to help students receive a Catholic education at K-12 schools in the archdiocese. This year, nearly 1,800 students throughout northeast Kansas are receiving scholarship support through CEF.
“Christmas is an ideal time to celebrate gratitude,” said Jeff Jaworski, chair of the CEF board of directors. “Sharing a meal with the archbishop and parents who sacrifice so much to put their kids through Catholic schooling is incredibly rewarding.”
Before dinner, the group attended Mass in the chapel at the archbishop’s home. In his homily, Archbishop Naumann shared how his mother’s vocation as a Christian parent and educator shaped his life.
“She always had hope,” he said, “and taught me that God had a plan for me.
“Our schools partner with parents to help children grow in knowledge and to know that they are beloved sons and daughters of God and that they carry the life of Jesus Christ within them.”
This sentiment resonated with Daniel Alvarado. His children attend Christ the King School in Kansas City, Kansas, with scholarship support from CEF.
“At Christ the King, Jesus is present every day,” he said.
Over dinner, Alvarado said that when he was growing up in Guatemala, his parents could only afford to send one child to school. As a boy, Alvarado volunteered to work and help the family financially so that his sister could go to school.
“My opportunity is gone,” he said, “but my kids, they have opportunities now.”
Erin Cronin agreed. Her three children receive CEF scholarships to attend John Paul II School in Overland Park.
“Yes, it’s a sacrifice but it’s one that I’m grateful for,” said Cronin. “I’m learning about my faith from my kids.”
“There’s a ripple effect,” CEF executive director Vince Anch told the parents. “Our schools help guide kids in their faith, but they also help drive families to the faith or back to church.”