Student effort saves small Catholic school -- for now

For many people, the speed of the Internet and its many social media sites can seem dizzying and, at times, slightly off-putting.

That is until these tools become a lifeline in a critical situation.

Earlier this week, students from the College of Saints John Fisher & Thomas More, a liberal arts school on Fort Worth’s south side, used the popular crowdfunding site gofundme.com to raise nearly $300,000 to ensure that their beloved campus would remain open for another spring semester.

According to the school’s website, Fisher More, which was established as the Saint Thomas More Institute in 1981, was in danger of closing due to a funding gap of $250,000, which was needed to keep the campus operational for the spring semester.

In a video created and posted by students in November, articulate and devoted young men and women implored viewers to help keep their school, which offers a private Catholic education at low cost, open and alive.

If viewers were unable to provide financial support, they asked simply: “Please pray for us.”

Their prayers were answered by several hundred benefactors who helped the school overcome what seemed like insurmountable odds.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lists Fisher More as one of about 249 degree-granting institutions of Catholic higher learning in the U.S.

But Fisher More differs from many of its sister schools in its unique approach to learning, which greatly emphasizes the Catholic identity and provides a residential experience “where students are encouraged to immerse themselves in Catholic liturgy and prayer.”

Such an environment provides a powerful alternative to some institutions of higher learning, where faith can sometimes be treated as anathema to intellectual pursuits.

The college also has a unique financial model that seeks to minimize overhead and keep students out of debt with low tuition and a policy of not facilitating student borrowing of any kind. In a world of ever-increasing student debt, what could be more refreshing?

Alas, such noble and admirable goals may also be part of Fisher More’s struggle to stay afloat.

Whether it was the versatility of modern social media or a testament to the power of prayer, Fisher More lives another day.

Here’s hoping it will not test the powers that be next semester.