| By Darci Swisher | Correspondent

Deanery directs portion of CSA grant to school security

When Bishop Joe Vásquez awarded $10,000 to the Brenham/La Grange Deanery through the Catholic Services Appeal Parish and School Grant Program, pastors of the deanery’s 12 parishes and missions decided to direct half of the grant to security measures at Sacred Heart Catholic School in La Grange.

“Sacred Heart’s priority was to protect the kids in any way that they possibly can,” said Father Steve Sauser, dean and pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Fayetteville and St. Mary in Ellinger. “The kids are our number one priority in the school, and so making sure that they’re safe, and feel safe, is important.”

During the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA), parishes earn tickets for meeting milestones, and Bishop Vásquez then picks the winning tickets. Winners receive grants totaling $150,000 for parish operations and tuition assistance.

Last school year, Sacred Heart Catholic School put together a security and safety committee, and high on their list of projects was applying security film to the glass of exterior doors and windows. The Texas Education Agency recommends schools have, at a minimum, 12-millimeter security film on windows and doors to help protect students and staff members.

Thanks to the $5,000 from the deanery, Sacred Heart was able to apply 14-millimeter security film — the thickest offered by the company that the school worked with. The clear film makes breaking the glass more difficult for intruders; instead of seconds, it takes minutes.

“It gives you a lot more reaction time, and that’s the main goal of a security film — to give officers who are responding more time,” said Father Brian Phillips, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish. “It also may deter somebody trying to get in and eliminate the threat altogether.”

Father Phillips said the film is also a benefit to the parish’s religious education ministry, which holds classes at the school, too. “We’re all very happy and grateful we could do it and not have to wait any longer,” he said.

The Brenham/La Grange Deanery plans to use the remaining $5,000 to bring in a speaker for a deanery-wide gathering in the style of a mission or revival during 2024.

Both pastors agree that the CSA Parish and School Grant Program has helped boost enthusiasm and build momentum for the annual appeal.

“Sometimes, when you try to encourage people to give to a campaign that’s going to the diocese, it can be difficult,” because they don’t see the local impact, Father Phillips said.

But having Sacred Heart meet its challenge goal and receive $5,000, and the deanery use half of its grant to help the school, made the CSA’s impact more visible for parishioners, he said.

Darci Swisher is a freelance writer who has worked with the Catholic Spirit for several years. She and her husband live in Michigan.

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