Hope for the Future receives $400,000 gift to provide Catholic education
September 03, 2015 | posted by Today's Catholic
In her devotion to improving the lot of others, particularly the disadvantaged, Mary Jane Clark has gifted $408,000 to the Hope for the Future (HOPE) endowment fund to provide annual tuition assistance to 17 children from economically disadvantaged families, to attend a Catholic school of their choice in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Clark made the gift in homage and thanksgiving to her own Catholic school education in Wisconsin. “I attended Catholic school during my formative years and it provided a foundation of faith that has stayed with me to this day,” said Clark.
She also turned to her faith to help overcome her own physical disadvantages. Clark had polio as a baby and had to wear leg braces. Despite her disability and the discrimination she sometimes endured, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and attained her master’s degree in social work from Wayne State University. She also enjoyed a terrific professional career in social work and improving the lives of people with disabilities. Clark and her husband, Kenneth, traveled throughout Europe to research programs and methods to bring back to implement in institutions and clinics in the United States.
The Clarks came to visit her brother who was a physician in Texas, and they made San Antonio their home. Since retiring here, the Clarks served on volunteer committees in their parish, St. Brigid, and at the archdiocesan level. They were instrumental in building a chapel at their church campus and having handrails installed at the pastoral center building.
At 99 years old this December, Clark attributes her vitality to her faith. “It has not been one experience, but it’s been my life. It’s my personal prayers, it’s my daily living and it’s my devotion to the Catholic faith,” said Clark. The students who will benefit from this generous donation will be known as the Mary Jane Ihle Clark Scholars. A title that makes Clark humbly and shyly smile, eyes twinkling brightly.
“I want to leave a lasting legacy that will help needy children and their families enjoy a Catholic school education. An education that greatly benefited me, and I hope one day will help others overcome their own obstacles,” said Clark.
Clark has committed a bequest to other ministries in the Catholic Church, including Hope for the Future in order to fulfill her and her husband’s dream of helping the poor and disadvantaged.