The debt load for Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School in Columbia will be reduced, thus freeing up more money for academics and programs, thanks to a $1 million donation.
The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, hope their example will highlight the value of Catholic education and motivate others to support it with gifts large and small.
“Once again, we turn to God with hearts filled gratitude beyond anything we can express,” said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight.
In announcing the gift, he said the Jefferson City diocese is blessed to have benefactors who acknowledge the far-reaching impact of faith-based education and are willing to invest in it in such a significant way — “further solidifying the future of our youngest diocesan high school.”
He noted that the benefits of Catholic education — with its universal focus on personal holiness, rigorous academics, and service for the greater good — are significant not only to the Church but to society as a whole.
“We are laying the groundwork for generations of young people to choose discipleship and lead others to Christ through their witness,” he said. “Contributions of any size to this great and holy enterprise are appreciated.”
A chance to improve
Sister Julie Brandt of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, associate superintendent of Catholic Schools for the diocese, said this transformational gift will provide Tolton Catholic an opportunity not only to pay down its debt obligation “but to inspire others to step forward and make an investment in the school.”
“These benefactors are true visionaries who understand how important it is to offer a Catholic education in the Columbia community,” she said.
Tolton Catholic is in its eighth year of operation, serving students in grades 9 through 12, with an enrollment of 273 students as of August 2018.
The school cost $14 million to build and required bond financing for completion.
“We are extremely grateful and pleased to have benefactors who realize the importance of lowering our debt obligation,” said Deacon Dan Joyce, president of Tolton Catholic.
He called the gift “an answer to prayer.”
He said it “not only improves the long-term financial sustainability of the school, but positively impacts current operations by permitting funds allocated for debt service to go directly into educational programs and services for current and future generations of students.”
“Quite simply, it helps us focus on making the school better and better,” he stated.
It also sets a good example for others, Deacon Joyce added.
He believes Catholic education is a strong investment in the lives of young Catholics.
“It’s the best way we know how to keep the faith moving forward for the next generation,” he stated.
He said the goal for Tolton Catholic and other Catholic high schools is to help form Christ-like leaders. "We want them to be able to work for the common good, and understand that they’re doing it because they’re following Jesus’ example,” he said.
Tolton Catholic (www.toltoncatholic.org) develops students in spirit, heart, mind and body, providing a rigorous academic program and expansive extracurricular offerings in a Christ-centered environment.
It is named for Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton (1854-97). Born into slavery in northeastern Missouri, he overcame tremendous obstacles in order to become the Roman Catholic Church’s first recognizably black priest in the United States.