A church in Virginia will pay parishioners $2,000 to move their child from public school to any Catholic school, with the pastor saying “I think right now the schooling of our children is the issue. We’ll lose them to the culture of death if we don’t.”
The effort by Saint Raymond of Penafort Church in Springfield is made possible for what it calls the Our Lady of Ransom Fund, recalling how in the year 1218, Saint Raymond founded a religious order that organized the ransom of Christians kidnapped by Moorish raiders, the Arlington Catholic Herald reported.
Father John C. De Celles, the church’s pastor, “sees the fund as a way to ransom his school-age parishioners from the prevailing secular culture at public schools,” the Herald wrote.
The parish has raised $140,000 for the fund this year, which has gone to 113 students. The diocese also has its own Catholic school tuition assistance program.
De Celles noted that the northern Virginia area is expensive, making it hard for parents to afford private school, particularly if they have large families.
Nick and Karen Popp didn’t think they could afford Catholic school for their four children, but with the tuition assistance program, they now attend Angelus Academy, the Herald reported.
“God has done wonderful things through Father De Celles,” Nick Popp said. “When Catholic parishes are able to show generosity to families to allow their kids to get a Catholic education, it really is invaluable to many parents.”
Catholic schools continued to serve students even as public school ones shut down for more than a year because of the novel coronavirus. Parent Sarah Foote said her son “Looked at us in the summer of 2020 and said, ‘I can’t do virtual learning anymore.'” Another concluded that public schools were literally phoning it in when he “walked in on his child’s Zoom class being conducted from the teacher’s bathroom,” the Herald reported.
Arlington diocese schools saw an increase in enrollment of nearly 8% for the 2021-22 school year, suggesting that, instead of people who fled returning to public schools now that they have in-person classes, the flight has continued.
Parent Heather Howard’s move to a Catholic school called Holy Spirit was “driven by the pandemic, but we really found that Holy Spirit was the silver lining to it all.” Maureen Ashby, the principal at that school, said “parents are looking for a return to basics.”
Saint Raymond’s is in Fairfax County, where the school board recently attempted to silence a parent for revealing that there were books depicting gay pornography in the school library. Next door to Fairfax is Loudoun County, which misled the community about a rape committed by a boy wearing a skirt, as it sought to pass far-reaching transgender policies.
The Catholic church has fought back, with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge saying although transgender advocates “want us to be silent,” the situation has “reached an extreme” and “we really have to speak out clearly and compassionately, but in bold truth.”