Column: Modern-day saints look to break the cycle of poverty

Michael Morrisey is the executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation. You can reach him at (913) 647-0383 or send an email to him at:

Michael Morrisey is the executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation. You can reach him at (913) 647-0383 or send an email to him at:

by Michael Morrisey

Back by popular, popular demand is my two article series on “Inspiring Women.”

To set the stage, when last we corresponded, I left you thinking about the inspiring women in your lives. We discussed moms, sisters, spouses and many others — all certainly deserving of the inspiring women category. During the last 24 months, I bet you have compiled a list of inspiring women two school years’ long? If you don’t have that list, it is obvious you need to be inspired.

With this article, I want you to think out of your comfort zone and join me in going back to the future. I never really understood what that means, but it sounds good.

Going back . . . growing up, I was fascinated by history. One specific era that captivated me was the 14th century. Why the 14th century, you ask? Primarily because it was the time of St. Joan of Arc.

Please tolerate my history lesson, but I ask you to consider the following:

Joan was a small, frail person growing up on a peasant farm. It has been said that voices came to her accompanied by a blaze of light, counseling her to go help the French king. The French king offered her a sword to take into battle. Instead of that sword, she begged that a search might be made for an ancient sword buried behind the altar in a chapel. It was found in the very spot her voices indicated. She lost her life, but assisted the French in defeating the English. St. Joan was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. Joan was a simple person, never learned to read or write, was very prayerful and loved the poor tenderly.

And the future . . . Monica is a single mother of four. Attending school through the seventh grade was an accomplishment for her. She currently works 80 hours a week to survive. Her kids don’t have nice clothes, and some days they only eat once. The family prays together every day. She writes that she wants more for her kids. She wants them to attend high school and college. Financially, she is not sure how that is going to happen, but she prays to God that he will help her find a way. She believes that it will happen! She has the courage of Joan of Arc.

I am not saying that Monica should be a saint, but . . .

Each of these women is inspirational in her own way. Monica “gets it.” She understands that education for her children is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty they are currently experiencing. There are many other families like Monica’s — 738 for the current school year to be exact. The Catholic Education Foundation is helping 1,128 “children in need” realize their dreams of a Catholic education.

OK, enough inspiration for this day. Look forward to part two of this short series on April 6.

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Michael Morrisey

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