"Does ACE really stand for 'another child every day?'"
At first, the question took me off guard—I was heading out of Our Lady of Fatima School in Modesto, California, and I was barely paying attention to those around me.
"No," I almost started to say. "ACE stands for the Alliance for Catholic Education. We aim to strengthen, sustain, and transform Catholic schools around by the country by offering a suite of services that..."
But the little girl who asked me didn't want that answer. She was quite content with hers, and I couldn't help but nod.
Another child every day—what exactly does that mean?
Those of us at ACE, and especially those of us who have been on the Fighting for Our Children's Future National Bus Tour through forty-eight cities, feel like we have the mission of ACE down pretty well. We've been asked about it so often, it almost comes as second nature.
This little girl, with one simple question, completely shifted my way of thinking about what the mission of ACE is. Does ACE mean another child every day?
The focus of ACE is about transforming Catholic schools. It's about helping dioceses, educating leaders, providing choice for parents, and sustaining the thousands of sacred places serving civic purposes. At the end of the day, though, the focus of ACE is on exactly what that girl said it was—the focus is on the children.
We've traveled around the country for nearly eight months to help promote Catholic schools because we believe that every child, no matter his or her situation, deserves the right to a quality education, the type that can be found in Catholic schools. Children are of the utmost importance, but the girl in Modesto found a perfectly simple way of expressing that fully—another child every day.
One child can make a difference, and so one chance at a quality education—one scholarship, one tuition check, one seat in a classroom, one dynamic teacher—can be life-changing, and can be world-changing. As a woman who joined us for mass in Santa Ana, California said, "remember that these children are not the seed; they are the harvest."
A fifty-city national bus tour has the benefit of allowing a broad-scope view of the state of Catholic education in our country, and this view is a bright one. It can be easy to forget, though, that Catholic education isn't just a broad-scope issue. Catholic education is important down to the diocese, to the city, to the school, and to the student. These children are our future, a future that we believe is worth fighting for.
As we finish our tour and for the months and years to come, we'll remember that little girl from Our Lady of Fatima, and we'll remember what ACE really does stand for—another child every day.