From Catholic elementary school to Catholic university, Jim and Sharon deGuzman, chairs for the third annual Soles for Catholic Education walk, are witnessing the value of their children’s Catholic education daily.
Products of Catholic schools themselves – he in Milwaukee, she in Lisle, Illinois – the deGuzmans are investing in Catholic education for their five children.
“We think it’s important for our kids to attend Catholic school,” Sharon, who attended St. Joan of Arc Elementary School and Benet Academy High School in Lisle, Illinois, told the Catholic Herald. “”It’s building a foundation at a very young age.”
Members of Christ King Parish, Wauwatosa, four of the deGuzman children, 10-year-old triplets Olivia, William and Luke, and 11-year-old Mara, attend the parish school.
“They begin every day with prayer, and Christ is weaved into the entire day,” she said. “At Christ King, they are asked, ‘What do you think Jesus would do?’ What a great base for them (the students) to have with the challenges they face.”
While the virtues of Catholic elementary and high school education are extolled, Sharon noted the formation their oldest child, Nicole, 18, received at Christ King and Divine Savior Holy Angels is evident at the university level.
“It is neat to watch her go to Mass. She tells me, ‘It is a great way to end my day,’” Sharon said of her daughter, a Marquette University freshman. “How neat to see that she sees how important that is in her life – and she’s doing it on her own.”
She added, “Catholic schools reinforce what we do.”
During the walk’s first two years, Christ King has led all schools in the amount of money raised. Sharon credits their pastor, Fr. Phillip Bogacki, for getting the parish community – even members whose children graduated from Catholic schools years ago – to support the walk.
“A lot of those parishioners see the value of Catholic education,” she said. “They are very supportive.”
Motivation for supporting the walk, in addition to being the school’s main fundraiser (they still hold a dinner auction) is what it does.
“The money goes into the budget for tuition assistance,” she said. “It gives every family an opportunity to provide a Catholic education for their children.”
Sharon, a managing director at Baird Asset Management, and Jim, a graduate of Marquette University High School and Marquette University, who works for Hewlett-Packard Co., were part of the walk’s sponsorship committee, charged with securing corporate sponsorships for underwriting the event. More than 64 companies, foundations and individuals have provided financial support or in-kind services.
“The business community understands the importance of having a good moral compass, which Catholic education provides,” she said.