In Northern Virginia, where critical race theory, gender ideology, and emptied classrooms because of COVID-19 have sparked protests by angry parents of public-school students, a parish priest is taking up the legendary Archbishop “Dagger John” Hughes’ mission of helping Catholic children get out of public schools by every means possible.
Archbishop Hughes founded the Catholic school system in New York City in the mid-1800s and famously declared, “We shall have to build the schoolhouse first and the church afterward. In our age, the question of education is the question of the Church.”
Faithful Catholic education is no less urgently needed today. So, when the pandemic hit last year, Fr. John De Celles of St. Raymond of Peñafort Parish in Springfield, Virginia, instituted a one-time $2,000 scholarship for each child in his parish who switched from a public elementary or secondary school to a Catholic parochial or lay-run school.
This year, Fr. De Celles has renewed that offer again, thanks to the generosity of parishioners. He also doubled the parish’s annual, renewable scholarships to $1,000 for students in Catholic grade schools and $2,000 for students in Catholic high schools. And on a case-by-case basis, St. Raymond’s offers additional financial aid to families in need and helps cover the direct educational costs of families who homeschool.