BRIDGEPORT—Putting two boys through Catholic school is a labor of love for Janet and Sergio Bran of Bridgeport. It’s also a sacrifice they’re willing to make because they want their sons to carry the gift of Catholic faith throughout their lives.
Eight-year-old Alexander and 13-year-old Sebastian are students at All Saints School in Norwalk. They have been able to attend with the help of donations to the Annual Catholic Appeal’s, Bishop Scholarship Fund, which provides essential tuition assistance for students in diocesan elementary schools.
“This is a big sacrifice for us, but we believe that in today’s world we are making the right choices and decisions. It’s easy for adults and kids to derail from our faith and from God, especially with social media. They need a good foundation and something they can grow with and never forget. If you don’t have that from the beginning, it’s harder to start when the you get older,” says Janet Bran.
Joe Gallagher, chief development officer of the diocese, says that the mission of the Annual Catholic Appeal in the most basic terms is to help people in the diocese—whether it’s putting their children through Catholic schools, feeding the hungry, working with the most vulnerable or providing faith formation to people across the diocese.
Gallagher says that without the ACA, the cost of Catholic education would be beyond the reach of many families, especially those with more than one child in school.
Both boys were enrolled at All Saints before the family moved to Bridgeport a few years ago, but they loved the school so much, they decided that no matter where they moved, they would continue the boys at All Saints.
Janet says the school feels like one big family, and she has nothing but praise for the staff and faculty particularly as they pull together during the COVID-19 crisis to deliver academic excellence in the framework of a faith based learning community.
“Our school is doing tremendous job and I really give credit to every single person on the faculty and in the school. I believe they’re doing everything possible to keep kids in school and to be safe. What I’ve seen is that we’re in this all together and everyone’s doing their best,” she says.
Janet says that COVID-19 has also had a negative impact on her family’s finances and on many other families from the school.
A self-employed bookkeeper, she has experienced the loss of business clients who have suffered or closed up in the downturn, and her husband Sergio’s work in wine and spirits sales has become more difficult and challenging.
She says that everything in the supermarket has become more expensive, and there are always unforeseen bills that make it difficult to make ends meet, while meeting the cost of tuition.
The financial assistance the family has received from the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund has made it possible for her and her husband to keep their son Alexander at All Saints.
“We don’t go out and spend money on what we don’t need. Our priority is education. We just learn to cut back on other things and we’re happy we can do this for the boys.”
She and Sebastian, who will enter high school next year, attended an open house at Notre Dame High School and loved the school and its many programs.
Janet says she is very grateful for the support of the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund and even hesitant to ask because she knows that some families are in far greater need. But it’s a choice she and her husband have made and an investment in the faith and future of their sons.
“I hope that the boys will always be grateful for what they have and remember what we did for them by providing a solid faith-based education. We’re working hard for them so that they can have things we didn’t have and do better than we have. We want them to take the sacrifices we are making for them and put it to good use,” she says.
“Our schools play a major role in forming young people in the faith. They are safe, vibrant and academically excellent faith-based learning community. Contributions our donors make go directly to the families in need and they truly are a living legacy,” says Gallagher.
Gallagher says that last year, 1,456 students were awarded $2,798,800 in tuition assistance and more than $1.5 million was funded through the Annual Catholic Appeal, Bishop’s Scholarship Fund. With 2,546 families applying and a calculated need of $6,813,995, parents continue to rely on the fund to make Catholic education a reality for their children.
(If you haven’t participated in this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal, please make your gift online at www.2020ACABridgeport.com or text the word APPEAL to 475.241.7849 or call 203.416.1470. Thank you for your support.)
By Brian D. Wallace