My mother died eleven months ago. Many kind and generous people donated to a memorial scholarship fund established in her honor. Gifts measured near $50,000 at the time of her death and contributions from my siblings have now put it over $75,000. We hope to eventually build up a $100,000 endowment that will provide annual scholarships for Catholic students at area schools. After high school in the 1940s my mom went to college at seventeen hoping to become a teacher. Instead, during her two years of higher education, she was swept off her feet by my dad and they married while she was still a teenager. Fourteen months after their wedding, she had the first of eleven children and her teaching was confined to us as a stay-at-home mom. Other people of goodwill helped her help us get educated. I suspect she is very pleased to be able to assist in the education of others-in-need for generations to come.
Bishop Raymond Boland, about twenty-five years ago, urged parishes with schools to establish endowment funds to secure viable Catholic education for future generations. When he died in 2014 a memorial fund was also set up, administered by his brother, Bishop Kevin Boland, to benefit underprivileged children within our diocese so they can receive a Catholic school education. That initial base fund was several hundred thousand dollars. Because of his foresight and example, many of our religious schools created scholarship funds honoring parents or other loved ones. They can be established in any amount; the average is probably $10-15,000. When these smaller memorial endowments are combined with others, they add up to significant capital assets. Normally, the principal fund cannot be withdrawn but interest from the corpus is used each year to provide a scholarship—usually 5% of the principal. I am grateful to the families who have set up scholarship funds in the name of their loved one, for these endowments are what will safeguard future Catholic school education, one of the greatest gifts of the Catholic Church.
This week Kansas City and the Catholic community lost an incredibly great philanthropist in Kathleen Whalen Andrews. A 1962 graduate of Notre Dame University, she and her husband, Jim, a former seminarian, moved to Kansas City where he was managing editor of the National Catholic Reporter and Ave Maria magazine. Teaming up with friends from South Bend, John and Susan McMeel, they founded Universal Press Syndicate, later Andrews McMeel Universal. After Jim died suddenly at the young age of forty-four, she raised their sons, and moving from CFO and secretary to partner with John McMeel, they built the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world. They established the James F. Andrews Memorial Scholarship Fund at Notre Dame University; rather than building a student hall, they established a living legacy in conjunction with the Center for Social Concerns by underwriting summer service-learning programs for thousands of UND students. The first woman to serve on the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and Fellows, she humbly and quietly went about advancing Catholic education and promoting faith-in-action far and wide. She has received honorary doctorates from local universities and coast to coast. And she was never shy about rolling up her sleeves to help the poor and needy and impacting hundreds of thousands of children in urban centers of large cities to migrant centers in border towns to hidden rural regions. She was unique in her joyous attitude of supporting the church through educating scholars while helping them to imitate Christ and, in the process, become better people.
I am very blessed to have been impacted by Kathy Andrew, Bishop Boland, and my mom. Their praise and concern for Catholic education inspires me. Perhaps you, also, have been blessed by a parent or mentor-in-faith and would like to establish a small scholarship fund in his or her honor. The ripple effect for those who follow us will be overwhelming.