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Help Us Keep The Light Burning Bright!

Help Us Keep The Light Burning Bright!

2019 Annual Appeal

A note from our Principal, Eric Becker: At the end of last school year, two of our treasured teachers -- Mary Ellen Varhue and Cathy Richards -- retired.  In their years at St. Francis Xavier, Mary Ellen and Cathy inspired me, their students, and their colleagues. 

Our theme for this year’s Annual Appeal is “Keeping the light burning bright,” so it was fitting to ask these educators and their husbands, Wally and Dave, to serve as Co-Chairs. They have done so much to keep the light of learning and faith burning bright at St. Francis Xavier and they know firsthand how important it is to pass that light on to our children. Here are some observations they recently shared:

Mary Ellen Varhue: “Wally and I were introduced to St. Francis in 1995 when we enrolled our three children. In 2004, I took a giant leap of faith and left my engineering job at IBM for what I thought would be one year of teaching. I never looked back.

I’ve seen amazing changes at St. Francis Xavier over the years due to many generous benefactors, but there has been one fundamental thing that hasn’t changed; the quality Wally and I recognized when we first walked into this school -- it’s the faith that we can experience and pass on to the kids. 


My daughter is now a teacher at a local public school. She and I agree that many students today are adrift and
struggling. There are very good teachers at public schools who care about their students, but those teachers are hamstrung in one important way. At St. Francis Xavier School, we have a ‘super power’ we can use to help our students. We can turn to them and say, ‘You are loved totally and completely by God,’ and that makes all the difference.” 


Cathy Richards: “When I applied for my first teaching job 38 years ago, I expressed concern about whether I could do an adequate job teaching religion to my students. Our principal, Sr. Hilerene, told me, ‘What you’re teaching these kids will become what you live.’ She was right. It became our lives.

In 2005, Dave and I came to Vermont and God brought me to St. Francis Xavier School. More than teaching reading or writing or math or science, I felt I had to help my students deal with life. When they faced challenges or heartaches, we prayed and we cried and we questioned and prayed again and we cried some more. Kids need a place where they can navigate through life with Christ at their side, with Christ as their light. St. Francis Xavier School is that place.”

A message from all of our Co-Chairs: Monsignor Lavalley has said many times that if kids at St. Francis Xavier don’t learn anything else, he wants every student to leave here knowing that God loves them. It has been a blessing for us to not only provide an excellent education to our students, but also share the light of Christ with them. 


We want this gift to be available to many children, of all economic backgrounds. That is why we are proud to serve as the Co-Chairs of this year’s Annual Appeal. 


The Annual Appeal plays a crucial part in the school’s financial health. The money from this Appeal bridges the gap between what tuition covers and the actual cost of educating our students. Once again this year, a wonderful group of benefactors has created a challenge for you, our generous friends. They will match all money raised in our Annual Appeal by January 31, 2020, up to $50,000! Please take advantage of this opportunity to double your donation to St. Francis Xavier School and thereby double the gift you give to our children.

Please keep the light burning bright for the children of St. Francis Xavier School. 


Mary Ellen and Wally Varhue 

Cathy and Dave Richards

Annual Appeal Co-Chairs

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