Catholic Coalition for Special Education
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” (Matthew 18:5)


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October 13, 2009
Francesca Pellegrino
Founder and President, CCSE
(301) 933-8844


Fourth Annual Ceremony Shows Growth of Program

Kensington, MD — Kensington, Md. -- Six schools received grants from the Catholic Coalition for Special Education (CCSE) at the annual Grant Awards Ceremony held at St. John the Evangelist church in Silver Spring, Md. The awards were given to the schools to continue and expand their high-quality programs designed to meet the needs of students with intellectual disabilities. Total awards came to approximately $108,000, a 10 percent increase over the 2008 grant cycle.

“CCSE lives by the words of Pope Benedict XVI,” said Francesca Pellegrino, founder and president of CCSE, “that ‘no child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.’ And, we hope that our on-going campaign to raise funds to support meaningful inclusion programs in Catholic schools cultivates strong family and community ties, which, in turn, encourages young people — with and without disabilities — to enter the world with an open heart to all people.”

This year’s award recipients are:

School representatives told stories of how their students with special needs touched the hearts of their peers without disabilities, as well as the teachers and staff at the school, transforming the school’s environment into a place that is “better for everybody,” said McGann, principal of Our Lady of Lourdes. Pellegrino added that she hoped these stories provide an inspiration to all and “help CCSE motivate more schools in our area to serve students with intellectual disabilities.”

Sister Lannak set the tone for the ceremony in her opening remarks that the CCSE Believe in Me! Grant-Making Program and the participatory schools “break down the barriers of fear” associated with including students with intellectual disabilities in schools where most students do not have significant disabilities. Maggie Hubbard, assistant principal at St. Mary of the Mills, added later in the evening’s program that students with intellectual disabilities “fill us and challenge us to be better than we are.”

The mission of the Catholic Coalition for Special Education is to ensure that children with special needs are able to attend and receive an appropriate education in their local Catholic elementary schools and high schools. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI “no child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.” CCSE provides grants and technical assistance to help Catholic schools in Washington, D.C. and Maryland achieve this goal.

If You Believe in Me. . . I’ll Believe in Me!

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