By Emily Drooby
On Tuesday morning at Our Lady Of Sorrows Catholic Academy, students were awarded for their outstanding grades.
Something else outstanding? Over 99 percent of these students identify as Latino. The school’s principal, Dr. Cristina Cruz, said: “It’s amazing, we’re 99.9 percent proud here.”
This is far from the norm across the U.S. In fact, a report published by Boston College back in 2016 said while there’s about 8 million Hispanic school-aged Catholics in the country, only about 300,000 of them are enrolled in Catholic schools, that’s less than four percent. But the Diocese of Brooklyn, bucks that trend, with about 32 percent of students identifying as Hispanic or Latino.
But why is this number so high? It could have something to do with access to scholarships. Dr. Cruz, said: “The tuition is almost $5,000, that’s a lot of money for a family who makes hardly anything.”
During a panel at the Catholic University of America, it was suggested the cost of Catholic schools is a key barrier to Latino enrollment, but many students within the Diocese of Brooklyn benefit from the Futures In Education program, which provides scholarships to students who attend Catholic school.
Vicar for Development in the Diocese of Brooklyn, Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, said: “The scholarships are so important to our Diocese, because there are many people that would like to send their children to our schools, many of them are immigrants and they struggle, and they would not be able to send their kids to our schools if it weren’t for the scholarships of Futures in Education.”
At Our Lady Of Sorrows, 147 students were awarded Futures scholarships just this year, that’s over $290,000. To which Dr. Cruz, said: “Thank God for it. To be honest without them we would be shut down. ”
Students say they’re happy to go to a school, that nourishes both their minds and their soul.