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Catholic Education and Grace Scholars

Dear St. Catherine Parish Family,


Catholic schools are an immeasurable gift, especially in our day. They provide our children with a safe, nourishing environment to learn how to think critically and to grow in virtue and holiness to be prepared for the challenges of this life and most importantly to be prepared for eternal life in heaven. Many studies have shown that children who attend faithful Catholic schools remain faithful Catholics and attend Mass and participate in the life of the Church as young adults and adults at much higher rates compared to those who attend other schools. I know that every Catholic parent wants these things for their children more than anything.


In light of this, I write to you today asking you to consider two things. First, if you are a parent with school-age children, I want you to consider if the gift of a Catholic education is something the Lord is asking you to give to your children. I often hear many reasons offered why Catholic schools are not the right choice for families, the most common being tuition expenses. This is certainly a valid consideration. However, I would invite you to make this a serious point of discernment for your family, and consider most importantly the benefits of a Catholic education for the overall formation of your children. In our archdiocese, there are several options for a Catholic education available, but at St. Catherine’s, we are particularly blessed to have excellent options for a Catholic education available on our campus for children from preschool all the way through high school. And I am committed to making our schools as affordable as possible and making generous tuition assistance available, so that any parents who want to give their children a Catholic education are able to do so.


Second, related to this previous comment, regardless of whether or not you have school-age children, I want to invite all of you to consider participating in the GRACE Scholars program, which is state sponsored program that allows individuals, couples, and corporations to make a donation to one of our archdiocesan Catholic schools and then receive a 100% tax credit (not merely a tax deduction) on that amount depending on your state tax liability. For example, a married couple, filing jointly, has the possibility to make up to a $5,000 donation to our school and then receive a $5,000 tax credit when they file their taxes the following year. In essence, you are able to divert a portion of your tax liability (which you would have to pay to the state anyways) to our schools. So instead of the state receiving your tax money, the funds could go to our school (or any archdiocesan schools you direct them to).


Admittedly, this does seem too good to be true. But it is true! I, myself, have participated in the GRACE Scholars program for the last several years, and I can attest that the process is very simple. Basically, you need to visit the gracescholars.org website to complete a registration form for pre-approval (please try to do this as quickly as possible since the state does put a cap on the overall amount of funds that can be redirected). And then in January of 2024, you will receive a letter from the Georgia Department of Revenue notifying you of the amount you have been approved to donate. Then you will make the donation up to the approved amount either by check or online. And then when you file your 2024 state tax return in early 2025, you will be able to receive the full amount donated back as a tax credit, presuming your state tax liability equals or exceeds the donated amount, which for most people will likely not be a consideration (if your state income tax liability is less than your donation to GRACE, the amount of the unused credit can be carried forward for five years – corporations who donate are not able to carry forward the credit).


GRACE Scholars has the potential to make an incredible impact on our Catholic schools and can make the difference for many families as to whether or not they can afford to send their children to our schools. I would ask you to please take some time and visit the gracescholars.org website and consider making a donation through GRACE to give the gift of a Catholic education to a family who needs assistance. I am also including a video below from Archbishop Hartmayer describing the impact that GRACE has made to many of families.


Finally, as we begin admissions season for our schools, I ask you to pray for the families in our schools and for the families who are discerning enrolling in our schools. And I also ask you to pray for our amazing school teachers and staff who serve so generously and provide our children and their families with a formation that will allow them to truly grow in virtue and holiness and help them become who God has created them to be.


If you would like to find out more about our archdiocesan Catholic schools, you can visit www.archatl.com/offices/catholic-schools for the Office of Catholic Schools website. Or if you would like to learn more about the wonderful schools located here on our campus, you can visit their respective websites: www.scspreschool.org for St. Catherine’s Preschool, www.scsiena.org for St. Catherine’s Grade School, or www.chestertonatl.org for Chesterton Academy of Atlanta Classical Highschool.


Sincerely in Christ,


Fr. Neil



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