As the back-to-school season is in full swing, the hearts of many are with the Uvalde students who were affected by the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School earlier this year. A Chicago-based nonprofit Catholic Extension is offering more than thoughts and prayers, awarding 30 full scholarships to children injured in the massacre.
After the shooting on Tuesday, May 24, about 80 families in Uvalde sought immediate psychological relief by transferring their children from Robb Elementary School to Sacred Heart Catholic School. In response, Catholic Extension created a scholarship fund, seeking help through outside donations to meet demand.
“Catholic Extension is committed to providing ongoing care and support to children and families in Uvalde, Texas,” Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, said in a statement. “We believe that awarding Sacred Heart Catholic School scholarships will provide a safe and loving educational environment for children who suffer the physical and emotional wounds of violence.”
The group announced the scholarships on Monday August 15 – for many the first day of school – as part of their continued support for the well-being of families in Uvalde.
“Tuition assistance means everything to my son and our family,” Oscar Orona, father of a Robb Elementary shooting survivor, said in the statement. “My son has been through a lot and still has a long way to go to recover. At the very least, he deserves to go to a school where he feels safe. Fortunately, with the support of Catholic Extension, he will now have this reality.
In addition to student financial aid, the nonprofit also supports six nuns who will provide on-site emotional assistance during the first week of school to students and teachers at Sacred Heart Catholic School. Ultimately, a total of 100 sisters will serve the Uvalde and Catholic communities in various capacities over the next 18 months.
Sister Esther M. Guerrero said, “Returning to school is undoubtedly a scary and trying time right now for the children of Uvalde, but they are filled with hope. Our goal this week is only to show students, parents, and teachers love and support by simply being by their side. We are here to serve this grieving community, whether large or small.
This is not the first time that Catholic Extension has provided significant support to the town of Uvalde. His support helped build Sacred Heart Church in Uvalde in 1906, followed by Sacred Heart Catholic School in 1912. To date, the non-profit organization has supported over 1,400 communities churches in rural Texas and along the US-Mexico border.