Verbum Dei’s Supporters are the Best in the World!

Verbum Dei was the fundraising darling of the Cristo Rey Network last year—all 37 schools. We began the year with normal goals that quickly turned lofty and then to very lofty—we went from $3M to $5M and then from $5M to $7M. During a normal year, we raise about $3M.

We did this for five reasons:

  1. Our students were directly impacted by COVID-19…more so than most other communities because of their parents’ employment positions—mostly service and blue collar—forcing them to break quarantine exposing them to greater risk
  2. Our students and their families are often directly affected by social injustices. Once, I asked individual students in an assembly to raise their hands if they’ve witnessed a family member or friend being shot by a gun. The number of hands raised was appalling—it was half.
  3. Our students’ families were directly impacted by the economic downturn because of their employment—many were fired
  4. We had the sense our Corporate Work Student Program (CWSP) would underperform due to the pandemic
  5. We knew our donors would stand behind us

Through all of this, it was demonstrated once again that Verbum Dei High School has the most amazing supporters of any organization—they give to us during prosperous times and in times when the economy is not doing well.

Last year, during the pandemic, our donors showed their steadfast support for our mission like never before—they gave upwards of $7M!! And, it couldn’t have been timelier, as CWSP, as predicted, came in well short of their typical year of $1.8M goal—they raised a little over $400K.

So, even with COVID-19, social injustice, economic downturn, and the CWSP shortfall, we were able to cover it all with a bit over to add to our reserves.

However, we are facing another shortfall in CWSP so we will need you all again. And, we are confident you will be here to support us again because we have the most dedicated donors to a most noble mission. Thank you for a very successful fundraising year and for your impending support this year.

Sincerely,

Paul Hosch

Senior Vice President

Vince McGuinness 1943-2021

P.S. Verbum Dei, on Thanksgiving, lost one of its greatest supporters in Vince McGuinness. He was one of the most committed and loyal benefactors to the school. Vince and Joy, his wife, were always looking for ways to further our mission. Whether it was being the cede donors to a new program; sponsoring an entire event; supporting the Adopt-A-Student Program; and, hosting an event in their lovely home in Newport Beach. More than that, Vince took me under his wing and taught me many things. Among them was how to work with people with different political views who yet want the same ultimate goal—a better and more just world. Simply put, Vince McGuinness was a great man, and the entire Verbum Dei community celebrates his life and contributions to this com

Sweet Spirit…of Verbum Dei

I remember the first time I stepped onto Verbum Dei’s campus. Despite growing up not too far from Verb, I had no idea this beautiful community existed. I instantly fell in love with the Jesuits and their way of living out the love of God.

The Verbum Dei Community is my family. We encourage, uplift, support, and love each other professionally and personally. We are all blessed to carry out our vocations in community with these amazing people. However, the many amazing qualities that make up Verbum Dei does not make us immune to the societal ills present in the American culture.

Many of us received an education that did not provide a complete history of America and severely limited the voices of diverse experiences.

Most of us have been inundated with media messages that have portrayed certain races, genders, sexualities, abilities, and religions in a negative manner.

Many of us have been socialized to be fearful of people based on their skin tone, the neighborhood they live in, or their socioeconomic status.

Many of us have been taught, either directly or indirectly, that human dignity is earned and not given.

As I continue my journey towards gaining a true understanding of the histories and experiences of my own culture and the cultures of others while preparing my own children for the lives their futures, I am faced with the ways I am complicit in espousing anti-blackness (or anti-darkness) beliefs. I have been reflecting on those times I supported racial uplift but not social justice; the times I perpetuated the values of the model minority; the times I placed value judgments on a student’s way of being. This work has not been easy but is extremely necessary.

Karen Chambers and I were given the opportunity to discuss the ways in which racism can appear in Catholic schools. More importantly we offer steps schools can take to ensure the values of freedom and equity are present in all aspect of the school’s culture. I have included the article below.

I am committed to ensuring Verbum Dei consistently works toward the goal of educational equity. Verbum Dei must be as passionate about equity as we are about educating our students. We must be as committed to being anti-racist as we are about being impactful in our job duties. We must be as dedicated to the work of social justice in our individuals’ classrooms/ offices as we are to the collective work of social justice embedded in our mission.

As we move forward to do this work as a community, let us remember these agreements provided to us in the text Courageous Conversations About Race by Glen Singleton:

Stay Engaged

Experience discomfort

Speak your truth

Expect and accept non-closure

Fail foward

Always,

Brandi

Two Cents Worth

Most weekends I celebrate two masses at St. Cecilia’s at 42nd and Normandy, the parish where my mother spent her early childhood.  When I stand at the altar looking out at the congregation in this beautiful Byzantine style church, I am struck with the realization that I am at the altar where my mother was baptized, received her first communion and was confirmed over 100 years ago. 

Last Sunday we heard the familiar Gospel story of the desperately poor widow, who gave her last two pennies to help support the work of her temple/church.  Jesus contrasts her quiet, self-sacrificing generosity with the arrogant, well-off, ostentatiously religious types who make a great public show of their piety and almsgiving, but evidence no concern for those less fortunate than they.  It brought to mind the equally unheralded efforts of countless individuals upon whose work, often for a less than adequate minimum wage, we all depend to pick the beans for our coffee and butcher and package meat for our meals, stock our grocery shelves and clerk our drug stores, cut our hair and clean our buildings, coach our children and tend our sick, staff our schools and churches and homeless shelters.  One of the advantages of serving as President of Verbum Dei is being able to see how much our school community depends on the unsung generosity of faculty, staff, students and their families, board members, corporate partners, donors and friends.

As Thanksgiving rolls around this year, I will make an effort to be more mindful of all those whose unnamed contributions are so essential but generally unnoticed and even taken for granted. I will thank God, whose goodness is manifested in their continued hard work, by gratefully acknowledging the “widows” who serve as a compass for our common journey home.