Marr scholarships boost Catholic schools

Catholic education remains an essential element in our neighborhood’s school system, which has been strengthened in recent years by the innovation of the Saint John Paul II Catholic Academy and its four campuses.

The academy system has centralized academic standards, replacing the former parish school model. It has also triggered expansive build-outs at the aging school buildings, including a complete renovation now underway at the Lower Mills campus.

Bolstering high-quality Catholic education in the city is not a new thing for one local family that has been doing just that for three decades.

The Daniel F. Marr, Jr. Scholarship Endowment Fund has given out over $1 million to 1,500 students in Dorchester since 1992. The latest round of $100,000 was awarded last month to a group of 109 students who attend 13 secondary schools and eight elementary schools. The schools include Saint Brendan School, Saint John Paul II Catholic Academy, Boston College High School Boston, Cathedral High, Cristo Rey Boston High School Dorchester, and Elizabeth Seton Academy, among others.

The grants were announced at a ceremony inside the Marr Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, whose members have been the chief beneficiaries of the scholarship fund.

The fund originated with a gift made by the estate of the late Daniel F. Marr, Jr., who helped launch the club in 1974.

“My father, for whom the club is named, grew up nearby and so did my brother and I,” explained Robert L. Marr, who was on hand for the ceremony in the club’s gymnasium. “We are so pleased that my brother’s gift both helps to grant young people in Dorchester the educational opportunity to create better lives, and continues a proud legacy in the Marr family tradition.”

In subsidizing enrollment in Dorchester’s Catholic schools, the Marr family is also securing the already-strong foundation of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester, whose members get a preference in the scholarship pool. (Memberships for children ages 5-18 remain just $5 per year.)

Many of the younger kids who won awards this year may not yet fully understand the gift they have been given, thanks to the generosity of the Marr family. But Kathy Mears, the superintendent of Catholic schools, who was on hand for the ceremony, certainly does. In thanking the Marr family, she told the kids “to take your Catholic education with you, be successful at whatever job you do, and do good in the world.”

The Marr family has done precisely that for many years.