New education fund helps children attend Blessed Sacrament

CHARLESTON—Father Joseph Romanoski, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, is passionate about education, and believes every child should be able to attend Catholic school, regardless of finances.

To that end, he has helped establish the Father McCarthy Catholic Education Fund, which will help parish families send their children to the school, plus provide funding for marketing and development.

A kick-off celebration was held recently to thank the members of the Father McCarthy Catholic Education Society for their contributions. The society has about 30 people currently, all of whom donated at least $2,000 to the future of Blessed Sacrament, said Father Romanoski.

He said the education fund currently has $75,000 in gifts and pledges. This will go a long way toward helping parish families who need financial assistance to send their child to the school.

Current enrollment at Blessed Sacrament is 273, with plans to add 3-year-old kindergarten plus a second class of fourth-graders, the pastor said.

Applications have already been submitted for the 2014-15 school year, and Father Romanoski said there is a very thick stack of people seeking financial aid.

“It’s getting more and more difficult for families to send their child to the school,” he said. “We need to take the financial burden off the parents.”

Roseann Tracy, principal, said families at Blessed Sacrament were hit hard when the economy plummeted years ago, and they still haven’t recovered.

“They had to make some hard choices,” she said. “Children who started here and really wanted to stay had to leave.”

Now, parishioners are hearing Father Romanoski speak from the pulpit about the parish and school being one, and that Catholic education won’t be denied, and they are excited about the future, Tracy said.

The new education fund is named in honor of Father John McCarthy, who founded the church 70 years ago, followed by the school four years later.

“A Catholic Church without a school is only half a church,” Father McCarthy said at the time.

Father Romanoski is a firm believer in that sentiment, noting that he has served at a church and school all the years of his priesthood save one. He said the formation of children — the future of the church — is the responsibility of parents and parish together.

The McCarthy Society, which is now open to all parishioners, is more than a fundraiser because the members will have an ongoing relationship with the school, he said. They will receive newsletters about the school, and serve as ambassadors to the community at-large, using their influence and connections for continual support.

Jack McGovern, the church’s stewardship and development officer, said the fund will initially provide assistance only for parishioners of Blessed Sacrament. He said if any parent wants to send their children to the school, the society’s goal is to take all obstacles out of the way and make it possible.

In the future, the fund could be opened to other parishes that don’t have schools, if they want to participate, McGovern said.

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