By Tony DeGol
The Catholic Register
Siblings Jacob and Julia Horwath live in Johnstown.
Deanna Jones and her daughter, Kristin Jacobs, live in Ohio.
Although geography separates them, the four individuals share a bond that will last a lifetime.
The Horwaths, students at Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown, are the recipients of the Robert J. Jones Memorial Scholarship, established by Deanna Jones in memory of her late husband.
The four had the opportunity to meet and share stories at a luncheon in honor of the 20th anniversary of Bishop McCort’s Named Scholarship Program.
Jones, a 1963 McCort alum, said her late husband, Bob, a 1962 alum, loved returning to the school for football games and catching up with former classmates.
When he passed a few years ago, Jones realized that establishing the scholarship was an appropriate way to honor his memory.
“I think he would be proud to be able to continue the legacy of McCort,” she admitted. “It’s hard to keep these schools alive and thriving, and to be a little part of that, I think he would be exceptionally proud.”
The Horwaths, members of Saint Benedict Parish in Johnstown, jumped at the chance to thank the Jones family.
“I feel like I wouldn’t be the same person without this school,” stressed Julia, a sophomore.
“It’s just amazing to be able to have the ability and help to go to a Catholic school,” added Jacob, a senior. “It’s special to be able to celebrate your faith at school. At a public school, you can’t do that. We are grateful for the opportunity.”
Jacobs enjoyed her first visit to McCort and was pleased to meet the Horwaths.
“It’s kind of amazing to see that this school is still flourishing after decades and decades,” she said. “Talking to our two students and hearing their stories was so interesting.”
The bond among the four was one of many celebrated at the luncheon as other Bishop McCort supporters engaged with the teens who are benefiting from their generosity and witnessed the students’ talent and character in action.
This year, McCort is able to support students through 36 endowments, 79 named scholarships, and 19 businesses that participate in Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, according to Tina Mirilovich, director of advancement at McCort.
Income from endowments over the past 20 years totals more than $1.5 million, and donations to named scholarships are just shy of $2.5 million.
“The financial aid these numbers represent make an immeasurable difference in the lives of many students and their families,” Mirilovich emphasized.
Support from the community, Principal Tom Fleming explained, makes dreams come true.
“All of us here today recognize the value of a Bishop McCort education,” he told the group. “It is important for the future of our school, for those who are able, to continue to financially support the students who choose to be a part of the McCort family. You have all chosen to be part of our family because of our mutual passion for quality, Catholic, college-preparatory education. Your passions help us all to come together as one. The energy we create, as one, allows our students to achieve their goals.”
Certainly the goals of the Horwath siblings are many.
Julia is already thinking about a career in physical therapy, and with graduation just months away, Jacob is considering studying either nursing or architecture after high school. He is looking at attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Penn State University, or Saint Francis University.
He also has even more important aspirations.
“I want to get closer to God and try to be the best person I can be,” he said.