Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD! – Psalm 104

In 2018 when the Catholic Foundation began granting out of the Catholic Education and Formation Impact Fund, we knew lives would be impacted, but perhaps were not aware of the transformation that could occur within just four years.

One family, however, did have a vision of what the impact could be: Steve and Aimee Goda, parents of recent St. Mary Catholic Central (SMCC) graduate Jacob, who never doubted the potential of their son. 

Known as a social young man, with many gifts including humor and openness, Jacob has become a trailblazer.

Jacob, a young adult with down syndrome, is the first graduate of the St. Andre Bessette Open Doors Inclusion Program that enables students with moderate to severe learning disabilities to experience the spiritual, communal, and educational benefits of a Catholic secondary education at SMCC. This program was a grant recipient of the Catholic Foundation for the first time in 2018.

The Open Doors Inclusion Program provides its students with personalized, one-on-one teaching while also being able to learn in some traditional classroom settings. A unique peer mentoring program allows other students to serve as mentors to inclusion students in the classroom. SMCC is the first Catholic high school in Michigan to offer a high school experience to students with moderate to severe cognitive and learning challenges.

“This school experience has been more than we could have ever asked for. It has been amazing,” Aimee shared. This fall, Jacob will attend the University of Toledo, a milestone that may have seemed far off, prior to his time at SMCC

The Catholic Foundation family congratulates Jacob and gives thanks for the other students who will benefit from the Open Doors Inclusion Program. Aimee and Steve know this is just the beginning for the growing program.

“Not only did we want this for Jacob, we also do not want it to end with Jacob,” said Amiee. “We wanted to start something that is going to benefit children with disabilities for years to come.”

Listen to Jacob’s story HERE on the Detroit Catholic Podcast.

Your support of the Foundation’s Granting Endowments makes it possible to offer competitive impact grants annually to schools, parishes and ministries like this in our community. Help us to impact even more lives in 2021 by joining us today.