Dear Parishioners: What a terrific celebration of Catholic Schools Weeks we had at OLM.  Fr. Connors set a great Parish OLMtone for this annual event with his excellent homily about the importance of Catholic Education.  The Open House at our school was visited by many families considering Catholic Education. Also some alumni returned for a visit to their old school.   We ended the week with a joyful celebration of Mass on the Feast of St. John Bosco, the Patron of Catholic Youth.  I ask you to please continue to pray for the administration, faculty, students and families of Our Lady of Mercy School.

This past week was also National School Choice Week and was marked by a gathering at the RI Statehouse on Thursday.  Some may ask, what is school choice? School choice gives parents the freedom to choose their children’s education, while encouraging healthy competition among schools to better serve families' needs.  School choice lets parents use the public funds set aside for their children's education to choose the schools—public or private, near or far, religious or secular—that work best for them.

There are many types of school choice programs including vouchers, education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships, and individual tax credits offered in many states.  All of these various programs have been declared constitutional and provide an opportunity for many low-income families to make a choice which school their child attends.  Every yearschool choice many Rhode Island children are unable to pursue academic success through school choice because their families cannot afford to pay the full cost of tuition.  There is a program called the Rhode Island Scholarship Tax Credit that allows corporations and small businesses to help lower-income families afford private school education for their kids in return for a substantial tax credit.

These businesses are all allowed to receive up to a 90% tax credit amounting to $100,000 annually on contributions to a scholarship granting organization.  Last year the General Assembly increased the cap on the total tax credit to $1.5 million.  Many businesses take advantage of this opportunity to both help financially struggling students and gain a significant tax credit.  The Diocese of Providence established a scholarship granting organization called Financial Aid for Children’s Education of Rhode Island (FACE).  FACE provides financial aid for needy students wishing to attend a RI Catholic School of their choice. Every  dollar received through FACE is directed to low-income families in need of tuition assistance and children searching for the school of their choice. If you work for a corporation of any size or own a small business you might consider looking into this great program.  More information is available through the Catholic School Office and at providencediocese.org/face-of-ri.

Also at the RI Statehouse last week the Annual RI Right to Life “Rally for Life” was held.  This event saw a large crowd including many pro-life elected officials standing together in support of the defense of human life.  It was a great witness to the call to respect all human life.  There are some challenges facing the state and the defense of human life.  One is HealthSource RI, Pro-life rally January 19, 2006the local Obamacare Exchange created by Governor Chafee.  This program includes coverage for abortion-on-demand in every healthcare exchange plan.  Also there is a drive by some legislators to expand Medicaid coverage to include the public funding of abortion.

It is clear there is much work to be done in the RI General Assembly in defense of human life.  Please pray that our elected officials might be able to see the immeasurable dignity of all human beings most especially the innocent unborn and have the conviction and courage to protect human life in law.  I invite you to join us on Monday night as Fr. James Ruggeri from St. Patrick’s Church in Providence offers us a talk entitled “Blessed Are the Poor.”  He is an outstanding priest and preacher and I know you will enjoy his time with us.  Hope to see you on Monday. God Bless.