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Annual Appeal making a difference in lives across diocese
BY BRIAN J. LOWNEY, Assistant Editor

PAWTUCKET – Carlos Ramirez is grateful for the opportunity to attend St. Raphael Academy, where he receives a solid Catholic education that will prepare him for college and a bright future.

The 14-year-old student chose St. Raphael after participating last year in the “Saint for a Day” program created to introduce prospective students to the school and its diverse programs.

Through generous donations made in support of the Catholic Charity Appeal, students such as Carlos are able to realize the dream of a Catholic education through resources provided by the annual appeal

“I can’t see myself anywhere else,” Ramirez said, adding that he likes the size of St. Ray’s campus, friendly atmosphere, and the individual instruction that students receive from the school’s dedicated faculty.

For Ramirez, attending a school such as St. Ray’s, being educated in such an environment is a dream come true, one only made possible through the annual generosity of the faithful to the appeal.

The St. Patrick Parish, Providence, parishioner is one of 309 high school students attending nine diocesan and Catholic independent high schools to receive scholarships made possible by the Catholic Charity Appeal. The students received a total of $276,200 in assistance. Of those, 59 attend St. Raphael Academy.

Rosa Ramirez, Carlos’ mother, emphasized that without the assistance her son received from the Appeal, he would instead have to attend a vocational high school where he would not receive an education grounded in faith.

“I want my children to learn about God and have a great education that only a Catholic school can give them,” she said, adding that as a single mother, she could not afford to send her son to St. Raphael and educate her other four children at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Academy without financial assistance.

Ramirez, who works as a teacher’s assistant at Seton Academy, said that in addition to the financial aid provided to her oldest son through the Appeal, assistance provided through the Catholic Schools Office makes it possible for her younger children to attend their school.

In addition to providing educational resources for more than 300 families across the diocese, the annual appeal also serves as the main source of support for 39 diocesan ministries that provide for the physical, educational and spiritual needs of thousands of Rhode Islanders.

The diocesan Emmanuel House emergency overflow homeless shelter, English language classes taught by the Office of Immigration and Refugee Services, AIDS Ministry and Respite Care Services are some of the programs that receive funding from the appeal.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said that in celebrating the Year of Faith – Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation for all to appreciate the beauty of the Catholic Faith and to renew commitments to Christ and his church – it is important to remember that one of the most important manifestations of faith is charity.

“For generations the Catholic Charity Appeal has been an essential part of the life of the church in the Diocese of Providence,” the bishop said.

“So often, we find that people look to the church for assistance and support when they have no place else to turn. This has been especially true during the trying financial times we’ve all experienced.”

According to the Office of Stewardship and Development, $7.8 million is this year’s goal to assist those most in need through the campaign.

The programs that benefit from the Appeal offer assistance to people of all races, creeds and backgrounds and serve as an essential lifeline to those in the greatest need.

At St. Ray’s, Admissions Director Shawn McKay said that for many families financial assistance made possible through the Appeal is often the deciding factor on whether or not they will be able to afford to provide their child with a Catholic high school education.

“The Catholic Charity Appeal makes it possible for those students to have a life-changing experience,” McKay said.

Editor Rick Snizek contributed to this report.

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