“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40)

In 1987, an area Catholic family had an encounter that would change the trajectory of their life. Reeling from unexpected diagnoses following the birth of their son, they happened upon a hitchhiker who was presumably en route to Saulte Ste. Marie, but was  350 miles away and headed in the wrong direction Their brief conversation was full of moments that were too unusual to be called coincidences. The young man had recovered from the same heart condition as their son was awaiting surgery. The hope received in that conversation was life-giving. They were reminded in this that their family was seen by God and their son, who had been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, was very precious to the Lord.

Their son, now a 35-year-old man, is thriving and brings great joy to all who know him. He is the inspiration for St. Andrew Scholars Fund held at the Catholic Foundation of Michigan. St. Andrew Scholars Fund provides assistance for children with disabilities to attend Catholic school.

“Our great Catholic schools have the desire to be inclusive to students with disabilities, but often lack the funding or training to execute their desire with success,” shared the family. “By providing support for special needs students and inclusive Catholic schools, we’re making a difference in the lives of one student at a time.”

“We have been blessed to have a special needs child.  We wanted him to have a Catholic education.  Unfortunately, we were encouraged to enroll our son in a local public school. Too often, this is the experience of other Catholic families that God has blessed with special children. We aim to change this through the St. Andrew Scholars scholarship fund by both helping families with special children and rewarding those schools that are equipped to welcome them.”

According to the National Catholic Education Association and the Journal of Catholic Education, approximately .5% of Catholic school students have a recognized disability, while [children with disabilities] represent 13% of the overall population.”

When asked why they chose to work with the Catholic Foundation, they said, “The leadership of the Catholic Foundation is inspired and gifted. We were delighted by the people at the Foundation of and inspired by the Foundation’s mission.”

Often, when we are presented with a challenge, the Lord inspires us to create change to make progress toward a solution. The family looks to the Gospel’s example of Jesus reaching out to the edges of society as an example to follow.

“This is our calling; this is what we can do to help people, This is very meaningful to help people achieve a better life.”

Scholarships will be made available for the 2023-24  school year 2023-4 at select area Catholic schools, with plans to expand to include additional schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit as the fund grows. If you are interested in more information on the St. Andrew Scholars Fund,  or to make a donation, please click here.

To chat with us about setting up a fund in honor of a loved one in collaboration with the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, we invite you to call us at (248) 204-0332, ext. 2.

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