The Cuevas family has been spreading the Gospel and Good News of Jesus Christ for several years, serving people across the country and living out their calling as a missionary family. Oscar, Luz and their four children are originally from California, but moved to Chicago five years ago and have continued to grow together as a family of great faith.
“Our children have grown in the mission and love being a part of it as much as we do,” said Luz. “We always go together to Sunday Mass and pray with our children. We instruct them in the faith and try to live what we preach. Working together as a family and keeping them involved in our mission work has always been a dream of ours and I’m so proud that we have their support.”
While some missionaries get compensated for their work, the Cuevas family offers their services pro bono, helping several parishes across Chicago. Because the family does their missionary work for free, the Cuevas family follows a strict budget, and finding sources of income can be difficult.
“My husband is the sole provider of our family and as a missionary, he has struggled to find a good paying job that allows him to help parishes in the evening,” said Luz. “There have been times he’s had to work minimum wage jobs and take on positions he is overqualified for to support our family.”
The one area of life the Cuevas family didn’t want to neglect was their children receiving quality education, which is why they were ecstatic to learn about the Caritas scholarship and support it could bring their family. Luz and Oscar’s children, Oscar (third grade) and Gianna (first grade) both received $2,000 in scholarship funds, allowing their children to continue attending Catholic school.
“I have seen my children flourish academically at Queen of the Universe thanks to the great teachers they’ve had since pre-school,” said Luz. “We are at peace knowing that at Queen of the Universe, our children are also being taught the importance of faith and it’s a continuation of what we do at home. My children know that God is with them daily and they can express their faith freely.”
Both Oscar and Luz are eternally grateful for the Caritas scholarship because without it, their children would not be able to receive quality Catholic education.
Emilizabeth Garcia, her husband and their three girls live five minutes from Sacred Heart in Melrose Park and always dreamed of sending their girls to Catholic school.
“We knew placing our daughters in Catholic school would have a lasting impact on their lives, but with tuition costs, we didn’t think we’d be able to afford sending them,” said Emilizabeth. “Thankfully we heard about the Caritas Scholarship and applied immediately.”
The family’s oldest girls, Marijose (fifth grade) and Teresa (third grade) were both awarded the scholarship and have been attending Sacred Heart since kindergarten. Both Marijose and Teresa feel a sense of community at Sacred Heart and look forward to attending school and Mass every day.
“They love Sacred Heart so much that when they behave badly, I tell them I am going to take them out of Catholic school and send them to public school and they plead, ‘No mommy, don’t do that!’”, said Emilizabeth. “They enjoy it so much, have grown accustomed to the teachers and have made lifelong friends.
“It’s through Sacred Heart, Emilizabeth’s daughters get the opportunity to grow spiritually and in their relationship with God. They both completed their First Communions, attend weekday Mass at school, learned how to do the rosary and look forward to attending Mass as a family every Sunday.
“If the Caritas Scholarship didn’t exist, my girls would not be attending Catholic school today. We would have no other option but to send them to public school because we currently live on one income,” said Emilizabeth. “I am forever grateful my girls have the opportunity to attend Catholic school and the positive influence the staff and curriculum has already had on their lives.”
As a single, divorced mother of two, Brenda Gonzalez’s plate is extremely full working and taking care of her two children. A lot of Brenda’s time is dedicated to taking care of her oldest child, her son, who has down syndrome and a hip condition that has been putting him in and out of surgery for eight years. There are times Brenda needs to take a leave of absence from work to take care of him, which can bring financial stress to the family. Brenda’s youngest child and daughter, Nayah, has always been a wonderful little sister, creating an incredible bond with her older brother. Nayah attends St. Genevieve School in Chicago and is currently in the second grade.
“Nayah is extremely bright and has always expressed an interest in school,” said Brenda. “She exceeded my expectations and has maintained good grades, and lot of that is due to the support she’s receiving from St. Genevieve School. She has been able to create healthy relationships with teachers and other students, and it’s a blessing to witness.”
Nayah has been able to continue attending Catholic school because she received a $2,000 Caritas scholarship. Principal McKenna Corrigan provided Brenda with information about the scholarship and she applied immediately because it was important for her daughter to continue receiving a quality education.
“As a Catholic, I want my children to have morals, values and a close relationship with God,” said Brenda. “The archdiocese’s Catholic Schools provide students with an outstanding curriculum and opportunity to learn God’s word in school. Nayah has been able to express her love to God in many different ways and she wouldn’t be able to do so in public school.”
Not only is Nayah receiving the education her mother has always longed for her to have, she also has a tremendous support system thanks to the staff at St. Genevieve. “Nayah’s school has provided her with emotional and moral support, especially when her brother was in surgery and she was having a hard time coping with it,” said Brenda. “They have been there for her and helped her through tough times. I am eternally grateful for this because through the tough times, she is still able to succeed and work towards her future.”