By LORI ROSEHART     1/9/2024

St. Anne School Mariachi Band performs at St. Elizabeth Anne Seton Catholic Church in Irvine. Photo By Kathleen Hurtt/OCF


Singing a special rendition  of “Ave Maria,” the Mariachi band from St. Anne School in Santa Ana provided an extra dose of joy for hundreds. All dressed in uniform, La Purisima Catholic School students confidently proclaimed the Word of God at Mass.

These are just a couple of the God-given gifts and talents Catholic school students in the Diocese of Orange are sharing with parishioners across the county.

The new Catholic Schools Sister Parish Initiative opens the door for friendships to be built among the faith-filled communities from four Catholic schools and 16 parishes.

The initiative is supported by Bishop Kevin Vann and The Orange Catholic Foundation (OCF). The partnerships were first created over the summer of 2023.

St. Joseph Catholic School students bring up the gifts at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Laguna Woods. Photo By Kathleen Hurtt/OCF 


Now, the students and staff from La Purisima School in Orange, St. Anne School in Santa Ana, St. Joseph School in Santa Ana, and St. Justin Martyr School in Anaheim are visiting parishes in 13 different cities, serving at Mass, and sharing how grateful they are to be at a Catholic school.

St. Justin Martyr School Principal, Elva Pelayo, speaks at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Irvine. Photo By Anthony Vultaggio/OCF 


Many of the students describe their school as a family, including Nikolas V. from St. Justin Martyr, who said, “I don’t have any brothers, and the boys in seventh and eighth grade are like my brothers. We have a special bond between us.”

Andrea R., an eighth grade student from St. Joseph, said, “I love knowing that I’m coming into school every day, learning more about my faith and growing more in relationship with God.”

The introductory weekends are just the start of something much bigger. Parishioners are being invited to become a part of a life-long success story. The partnerships created through the “Catholic Schools Sister Parish Initiative” will “continue the mission to shape our students’ young minds and promote positive values that will guide our children throughout their lives,” said La Purisima’s principal, Rosa Ramirez.

With the gifts of tuition assistance, parishioners are giving more children in the most vulnerable neighborhoods the opportunity to attend a Catholic school. Without scholarships, many would not be able to receive an education that nourishes their faith, develops their character, prepares them for future academic success, and protects them from curriculums that compromise their Catholic values.

As of January 2, 2024, donors have graciously given $203,448 of the $1 million goal.

St. Anne’s principal, Sr. Teresa Lynch, is grateful: “I really want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You will transform so many lives—not only the children, but also their families because they will grow in their faith as well.”

It’s expected these new partnerships will continue to blossom in the spring of 2024 and beyond. The students plan on venturing outside of the classroom to help plant gratitude gardens or attend church festivals. In addition, some generous donors will be hand-delivering a “Jesus Loves You” bear to the students during a school visit.

If you are interested in learning more about the “Catholic Schools Sister Parish Initiative” or feel called to share the love of Jesus and help us reach the $1 million goal, contact The Orange Catholic Foundation at (714) 282-3021 or [email protected]