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Detroit Archdiocese Seeks $100 Million for Endowment

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The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit has announced a one-year fund-raising drive to create a $100 million endowment, half of which would be earmarked for tuition aid to help stem declining parochial-school enrollments.

To demonstrate the potential use of the interest from the endowment, the archdiocese last week said it had raised $1 million to go toward financial aid for its K-12 students next fall.

The endowment "really is a look to the future and a plan for the future, because we realize the value of Catholic education in the formation of the youth of today to become the Catholic leaders of tomorrow,'' said Ned McGrath, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

The tuition aid is expected to benefit families throughout the 315 parishes in the six-county archdiocese.

Next fall, the archdiocese will offer about 4,000 tuition grants of $200 each for elementary students and $400 for high school students who demonstrate need. The average tuition in the archdiocese is $1,300 for elementary schools and about $2,750 for high schools.

The archdiocese has not decided whether it will limit the number of grants per family.

The financial aid will be limited to Catholic students; about 78 percent of the archdiocese's 52,626 students are Catholics.

Plummeting Enrollment

The idea for a fund to help families pay tuition was born of Archbishop Adam Maida's observations in his three years in Detroit, Mr. McGrath said. "People were struggling with tuition in terms of keeping kids in the schools.''

The archdiocese saw enrollment plummet by 11,000 students between 1986 and 1993, Mr. McGrath said. "Most of that could be attributed to tuition,'' he said.

The $100 million goal for the endowment ranks among the largest of any such campaigns launched by Catholic dioceses. The "Stewards for Tomorrow'' campaign has already raised $13 million in gifts and pledges.

The endowment's $50 million for tuition aid is expected to generate $5 million annually in earnings. Half of that, or $2.5 million, will be distributed in financial-aid grants to K-12 students.

Another $5 million each would go to establishing an endowment for Sacred Heart Major Seminary and for tuition aid for about 60 seminarians and 400 lay ministerial candidates, including religious educators.

Half of the remaining 40 percent of the endowment, or about $20 million, would be given to parishes to use as they see fit, with the remaining money earmarked to help the poor and to supplement priests' pensions.

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