Catholic schools bolstered by success of #GivingTuesday

Students in St. Leo the Great School, Lincroft, hold up a big “Thank You” sign after generous donors helped the school surpass its Giving Tuesday goal. Principal Cornelius Begley is seen in back. Courtesy photo


By EmmaLee Italia, Contributing Editor

Giving Tuesday may be known across the world as a charitable crowdfunding campaign, but those involved at the local level see it as something more: a way to connect Church community.

And with total funds raised exceeding $49,600 from 480 donors as of mid-December, those involved in this year’s fundraising for Catholic schools in the Diocese call the effort an unqualified success.

“At the diocesan level, our goal was to highlight the value of Catholic education; schools needed to share that awareness through social media, student handouts and promotional pencils, stickers, etc.,” said Christine Prete, associate director of development operations for the Department of Development.

Spreading awareness they did, especially by comparison, as last year’s Giving Tuesday effort raised $26,000 from 383 donors.

This was the second year Giving Tuesday was promoted to diocesan Catholic schools. An outreach to alumni has grown beyond that audience to reach the entire diocesan community.  This year 29 elementary schools and four high schools participated.

As such, the campaign saw growth in both the number of donors and those who gave larger amounts this year – evidence that reaching the entire Catholic population is essential, said Steve Nicholl, director of the diocesan Department of Development.

For example, Hamilton’s Our Lady of Sorrows School’s $5,000 goal was met largely by one grandparent whose several grandchildren attended the school – spurring an impromptu thank you phone call from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

And through grassroots, peer-to-peer efforts and dialogue with the Diocese, St. Leo the Great School, Lincroft, had nearly half its funds raised before Giving Tuesday even arrived. It was able to meet its $5,000 goal by 9 a.m. on Giving Tuesday, and raised more than $7,800 in total.

Mary Koury, director of admissions] at St. Leo, told Prete that the one-page toolkit provided by the Diocese made her job easy. “I didn’t do anything, I just did what you told me to do!” she attested.

“Using the toolkit, she called in every week and asked questions, and said how easy it was to follow,” Prete said.

Prete stresses that donations can still be made online at, where offerings of prayer, volunteering and funds can be given to a specific Catholic school in the Diocese, or to a school fund that is administered on the diocesan level.

The website title, Prete explained, comes from the realization that, “We are all leaders in faith, and we are called as Catholics to help our Catholic community, including our schools. Being a leader in faith can be demonstrated many ways. Funding is always needed, but prayers and volunteers are also important in our mission to build awareness of Catholic schools.”

Money donated to a specific school stays with that school, Prete explained, while a gift for the diocesan fund will be used where it is needed most across the Diocese, most often tuition assistance.

Prete hopes that as news circulates about the greater engagement of schools and the campaign’s success, more people will be drawn into the larger conversation: that Catholic schools provide a quality education and value system that is so needed in today’s world.

To view an award-winning video on the Diocese of Trenton Catholic Schools or to donate, visit

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