Honoring the Old School: How grandparents play a role in Catholic education of grandchildren

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

January 30, 2020

Left to right: Grandmother Eduarda Lopez, Cesar Lopez, 14, grandmother Nelda Ramirez, with Marissa Lopez, age 3, grandfather Gabriel Ramirez, Christian Lopez, age 7, and Gavin Lopez, age 10, during Grandparents Day at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School Jan. 29, 2020. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)Left to right: Grandmother Eduarda Lopez, Cesar Lopez, 14, grandmother Nelda Ramirez, with Marissa Lopez, age 3, grandfather Gabriel Ramirez, Christian Lopez, age 7, and Gavin Lopez, age 10, during Grandparents Day at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School Jan. 29, 2020. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)
Left to right: Grandmother Eduarda Lopez, Cesar Lopez, 14, grandmother Nelda Ramirez, with Marissa Lopez, age 3, grandfather Gabriel Ramirez, Christian Lopez, age 7, and Gavin Lopez, age 10, during Grandparents Day at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School Jan. 29, 2020. (NTC/Rodger Mallison) Photo Gallery


FORT WORTH — If spoiling grandchildren were an Olympic sport, Nelda and Gabriel Ramirez are contenders for the gold medal.

Not only do they dote on their grandchildren, but an entire community — the students, teachers, and parents of Our Lady of Victory Catholic School — call the beloved couple “Momo” and “Popo.”

A cook in the school cafeteria, Nelda admitted, “I spoil the teachers and the kids.” She and her husband, who also works in the lunchroom, have fed Our Lady of Victory students for four years. Four of her grandkids attend the school, and two have graduated.

“She’s very welcoming to the students and knows all their names,” said Principal Linda Kuntz.

Employment comes with benefits for the grandmother, who receives a daily hug and a “I love you, Momo,” when her two youngest grandchildren come to lunch.

Nelda encouraged her daughters to enroll their children in the school, which was established by the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur in 1910. “My daughters went to public school, but I told them, ‘The [public] schools are not the same as when you were young,’” she said.

Not every grandparent interacts with their grandchildren at school every day, but many play a substantial role in their grandchild’s Catholic education.

Armando Muñoz works some class exercises with grandson Diego Muñoz, age 7, during Grandparents Day at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)Armando Muñoz works some class exercises with grandson Diego Muñoz, age 7, during Grandparents Day at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)

Armando Muñoz works some class exercises with grandson Diego Muñoz, age 7, during Grandparents Day at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)


Like Nelda, many grandparents influence the decision of where to enroll a student.

“Grandparents know it’s worth the sacrifice of sending them to Catholic school,” said Rose Hall Welborn, Director of Development for St. Andrew Catholic School in Fort Worth. She said grandparents have observed changes in education and culture through the years and “want to help their grandkids get a good education and a strong spiritual foundation.” Some even make a financial sacrifice and contribute towards the tuition of their grandchildren.

“They want their grandchildren to be in a Catholic school, surrounded by families with the same moral compass, the same moral values. It makes it easier to raise a child. And you see those families at church, which sets an example,” Hall Welborn continued.

Six of her nine grandchildren enrolled in diocesan Catholic schools, and the other three have good excuses. One is a baby, and two live in Houston.

Once the grandchildren are enrolled, school administrators welcome grandparent involvement.

“We have very active grandparents at our school,” said Principal Arica Prado at All Saints Catholic School, who said that in her seven years at the Northside school, she has witnessed an increase in participation.

They come to Mass with their grandkids, have lunch at the school, chaperone field trips, read with children in the classroom, volunteer at festivals, and run carpool in the morning and afternoon.

With the majority of parents working, grandparents are often the primary caregivers while the students are at school, Prado explained. They ask her, “What can I help with? I’m retired. I have time.”

“Grandparents have a special role with their grandkids,” Prado said. “I see the kids’ faces light up when their grandparents are there. They definitely have a beautiful way with their grandkids.”

First-grader Alex Alvarado gets a hug from grandmother Raquel Alvarado during Grandparents Day at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School January 29. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)First-grader Alex Alvarado gets a hug from grandmother Raquel Alvarado during Grandparents Day at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School January 29. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)
First-grader Alex Alvarado gets a hug from grandmother Raquel Alvarado during Grandparents Day at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School January 29. (NTC/Rodger Mallison)


The Northside school, which traces its history back to 1900, has generations of families that have attended the school, said Prado.

That’s true at Our Lady of Victory, too.

The young Linda Kuntz attended the school as a child, and she has been employed there for 27 years, beginning as the school secretary and business manager, then teaching, and now as principal. “It’s a big circle. Parents who are alumni have returned with their children. Grandparents have sent their children and now their grandchildren to the school,” she said.

Special Attention

Many diocesan Catholic schools host a Grandparent’s Day during Catholic Schools Week.

Highlights of the day are a Mass or prayer service, visits to the classrooms, and student performances.

Kuntz, principal of Our Lady of Victory, said Grandparent’s Day is an important date on the school calendar. “Catholic education entails the whole family, and we want to incorporate the whole family in every aspect. Students are picked up by their grandparents, sometimes they spend the night with them. Grandparents are important to Catholic students, and we want to celebrate the extended family because of the role they play with their students.”

Typically, grandparents are known to boast about their grandkids, so the day is also a chance to brag on their school, said Hall Welborn, the development director of St. Andrew since 1991.

Hall Welborn said students “show their grandparents what a fine school we go to, academically and socially.” The faculty, in turn, shows grandparents the product of Catholic education. “We are proud of our eighth graders. That’s the product.”

The role of grandparents in a child’s life, a child’s education, and a child’s faith is not to be underestimated, said Pope Francis in an address at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015.

The Holy Father said, “We must pay special attention to this: the children and the grandparents. Children and young people are the future, they are the strength, those who take us forward. They are the ones in which we place our hope. Grandparents are the memory of a family, they are the ones who gave us the faith, transmitted to us the faith.”

FORT WORTH — If spoiling grandchildren were an Olympic sport, Nelda and Gabriel Ramirez are contenders for the gold medal.

Published (until 12/5/2041)
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