Opening Doors

CSCOE initiative welcomes new Latino families to Catholic Schools

By Elizabeth Hurley

The Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE) Latino enrollment team has a vision for the future. 

“We dream of a future where these kids are equipped with all the values they need to be servants in the Archdiocese and in their communities, to serve in their language and culture, and to communicate their values,” said CSCOE’s Latino enrollment coordinator, Maricruz Hernandez. “All these beautiful things, they are learning at a Catholic school.” 

Latinos represent a large percentage of Catholics in Minnesota, but they are often underrepresented in Catholic schools. CSCOE’s Latino team was created in 2018 to show this vibrant community that Catholic education is possible and to help work through language or financial barriers. The team shares their message through social media, Latino festivals, Spanish Masses and their weekly radio show. 

Lorena Lopez first heard about the team on the radio. She called Hernandez — the only team member in 2018 — who helped her navigate the application process and apply for financial aid. Previously, Lopez’s daughters Julissa Soria Trejo, now in fourth grade, and Jessica Soria Trejo, now in ninth grade, attended public school where Jessica struggled academically. 

“When I looked at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Savage and saw the difference between St. John’s and public school, I loved it,” Lopez said. “I knew it was the best option for my daughters.”

Lopez feels blessed to send her daughters to a Catholic school. The teachers at St. John’s teach her children about their faith and prioritize the whole child. Since attending St. John’s, school has improved for Jessica, and she graduated with good grades. 

So far, more than 150 students have enrolled in Catholic schools this year with the help of CSCOE’s Latino office. Interest continues to skyrocket, with nearly 500 families inquiring about Catholic education — 300-plus more than in 2018. The team has also added three more members. 

“We are reaching out to everyone that God is leading us to,” Hernandez said. “What we see is that these kids come into Catholic schools and their lives are changing, their environment is changing. The kids are evangelized at school, and they go home and evangelize to their parents. We see one more soul for Jesus, which becomes one more family.” 

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