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Catholic schools tuition endowment set up by Father Ed Sheridan
ASHEVILLE — Father Ed Sheridan's parents made sacrifices – including his mom cleaning the school – so that he could attend Catholic schools from elementary grades through college.
In honor of his parents, Father Sheridan, who will celebrate 49 years as a priest in May, has established an endowment that will provide tuition assistance for Catholic education.
This is the first diocesan endowment established by a priest specifically for tuition assistance at a diocesan school.
The Sheridan-Mangan Fund is initially designed to aid families of students attending Asheville Catholic School who are in need of tuition assistance, but Father Sheridan said he hopes others will contribute to the fund so it may benefit even more students.
Father Sheridan came out of retirement in 2009 to serve as pastor at St. Eugene Church in Asheville and chaplain for Asheville Catholic School until 2011. While there, he said, he realized the need for a fund after meeting families who couldn't afford the tuition costs.
"I want those students to have the same opportunity as others to get a Catholic education," Father Sheridan said. "The need is great now, so why wait until I die?"
Father Sheridan, 74, named the fund for his late parents to honor them for all they did to provide him and his brother with a Catholic education.
"They are the ones who sacrificed a great deal so we could have that education," Father Sheridan said. "My mom took a job cleaning up in the school after hours to earn money for our livelihood as a family. Tuition was minor back then ... my folks probably couldn't afford it if the costs were as they are now."
Attending Catholic schools is a "big expenditure" for families, and Father Sheridan said he doesn't want to see children missing out on a Catholic education because of its cost.
"Any way we can help people go to the schools is very worthwhile," he said.
Throughout his priesthood, Father Sheridan has worked closely with Catholic schools in North Carolina, including serving as superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Charlotte when it was established in 1972. He has also served at parishes in Brevard, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Hickory, including roles as school administrator at three diocesan high schools and one elementary school.
"I've had relationship and concern for Catholic school education," Father Sheridan said. "I hope the endowment will affect many young people -- and for their whole lives. I hope, I hope."
The fund, which is now approximately $52,000, will be put into use "right away," Father Sheridan said. School and parish officials will determine who will receive assistance on a case-by-case basis rather than on predetermined criteria, he said.
Father Sheridan, who is now back in retirement and living in Hickory, fills in at parishes around the diocese as needed. He said he hopes to continue to contribute to the Sheridan-Mangan Fund and that others will join in the effort, too.
Judy Smith, director of planned giving for the diocese, remarked, "Father Ed's thoughtful endowment gift for Catholic education will benefit many future generations of families, and he joins thousands of others in the diocese who have made legacy gifts. We are very grateful for his generosity and stewardship."
— Kimberly Bender, online reporter
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