MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 4, 2014

Banker funds St. Joseph scholars

Scholarship fund to help up to six families

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Oklahoma City banker Patrick Rooney says he wants others to have the same “good Catholic education” he had at St. Joseph Catholic School.

Rooney and his family have established a scholarship fund to help students afford to attend the private school, 323 N. Virginia St. Acting on behalf of the family, Rooney presented the school with a $350,000 check to establish the scholarship honoring his parents, Larry and Lucy Rooney.

The check establishes a fund within the school’s endowment trust for up to six families, “and will help insure that a quality, faith-based education remains within reach of Muskogee-area residents,” according to a media release.

“We are very excited about it,” said St. Joseph Principal Sandra Brewer. “When their mother passed away, the children got together and decided this school in Muskogee was the only school all six of them attended. I think that’s pretty special.”

The endowment was announced slightly more than a year after Lucy Turner Rooney died in January 2013. Lucy Rooney’s husband, Laurence Francis Rooney Jr., died in 1980.

Brewer said the Rooney family also had contributed money to build the school’s library addition several years ago.

The Rooneys’ donation brings the school’s total endowment fund to $1.28 million, Brewer said, adding that the fund is managed by the Tulsa Diocese.

“We all had fond memories of the school in Muskogee,” Patrick Rooney said. “We want to see it succeed.”

Brewer said the endowment will help students who need tuition assistance. She said annual tuition is about $4,000 per year for Catholics and $5,000 per year for non-Catholics.

“We hope to bridge that gap between what people can afford to pay,” she said. “The church contributes $100,000 a year to the school. That reduces the amount of tuition we charge. This endowment is exciting for us.”

According to a school media release, one out of three St. Joseph students receive some sort of financial assistance, primarily through the Tulsa Diocese and “Go for Catholic Schools,” a recent effort made possible by tax credits enacted by the Oklahoma Legislature. Donors also provide scholarship funds.

Brewer said about 20 students are on a free lunch plan at St. Joseph, and 13 are on a reduced lunch plan.

“The school absorbs the cost of lunches,” she said.

Brewer said church and school officials will meet to discuss guidelines for the scholarship.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.