CALEXICO – “Today is the day we have worked so hard to get to for the last five years,” said Sister Lupita Hernández, SJS, at the recent momentous groundbreaking at Vincent Memorial Catholic High School, where she’s the principal.
She spoke at the start of construction for a science building and chapel in the only Catholic high school in the Imperial Valley, a project planned since 2014. The school must still raise $1.5 million to renovate eight old classrooms.
“During that time, I have knocked on many doors and begged many people in asking for donations and selling raffle tickets,” she said to those gathered for the groundbreaking on May 28. “I have also prayed for our donors.”
Sister Hernández told the story of what happened the day she presented the project to the Diocese of San Diego last year. The diocese agreed to give the school $1 million for the project, half as a grant and half as a loan. But that was not enough to cover the total cost of the project, $3.7 million. At that moment, she felt like she had let the community down and all she could do was cry before driving home, she said.
“Being a fighter, though, since the loan couldn’t be increased, my mind was already very busy thinking about ways to engage our former students to make an annual pledge and trying to figure out what we could do to make more money,” the principal said.
She said her prayers were answered a few months later “through our generous donors, Parent Teacher Group events, donations, and all our hard work.”
The funds raised, combined with the diocese’s funds, made the start of construction possible.
“Every donation and every prayer confirmed our strong belief in Catholic education and the sacrifices we were willing to undertake to build 21st-century facilities to better serve our young people of today and many more generations to come,” she said.
Bishop Robert W. McElroy, who presided at the Mass held before the groundbreaking, said he was “delighted” the diocese was able to help monetarily. He knew “the majority of the support came here in the Valley and in Mexico from the communities which have brought you to this place and support you here.”
“It unites a wonderful heritage of faith and academic excellence here that brings together the bonds of Imperial County and Mexico in the common faith and humanity which unites us all,” the bishop said in an interview. “Today’s event unites the past and the future … that’s a great achievement.”
The principal said that the school will spend the next few years raising the $1.5 million to renovate the eight classrooms.
“Please continue to support our project with the gifts of time, talent and treasure you have received from God,” she said. “All things are possible for those who believe and together we can make a difference in Catholic education in the Church and in the world.”
How to Donate
Vincent Memorial Catholic High School is raising $1.5 million to renovate eight classrooms. Donations may be made online through Paypal by visiting www.vmchs.com, by phone at (760) 357-3461, or by check (VMCHS, 525 W. Sheridan Ave., Calexico, CA 92231).