PADRINOS-EDU PROGRAM PAIRS STUDENTS WITH SPONSORS TO MAKE CATHOLIC EDUCATION POSSIBLE FOR MORE YOUTHS
A simple conversation four years ago between Father Joseph Williams, pastor of St. Stephen in Minneapolis, and Enzo Randazzo, a parish employee, spurred a new program that has the potential to make Catholic education possible for more Latino students.
The fruit of that conversation is Padrinos-edu, a program of the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) ministry at St. Stephen that partners students desiring a Catholic education with a sponsor.
“We’re trying to get people who have a heart for Catholic education to sponsor a child as their Padrino, which is Spanish for ‘godparent,’” said Randazzo, the program’s director of development. “We think of them as a godparent of their education.”
Since that first conversation, the program has grown with the goal to positively impact many more children. There are currently about nine students and corresponding sponsors involved in the program, but there are many opportunities for more Padrinos to join.
The Padrionos-edu model is based on the generosity of families who believe in the life-changing gift of a Catholic education and have decided to sponsor the education of a child who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend Catholic schools. The program encourages letter writing back and forth to foster a relationship between the Padrino and the student. Its vision is to “build bridges to Catholic education for Latino youths while also building bridges between the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking families within our local Church.”
“[Father Williams] looks to the children and sees that they are going to [non-Catholic] schools and are not in a situation where faith can be fostered and grow the way it might in a good Catholic school,” Randazzo said. But he said there can be challenges in bringing Latino children into Catholic education — economic, proximity and cultural obstacles.
However, the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence is helping reduce these barriers by funding a bus to take students in the Padrinos-edu program to school.
With great potential to increase Latino enrollment in Catholic schools, Randazzo said Padrinos-edu is “certainly a response to a great need.”
For more information about the program or to become a Padrino, contact 612-392-2421 or visit www.padrinos-edu.org.