Holy Cross School in North Portland was given a transformational gift from the Julia Burke Foundation at the end of the last school year. The legacy gift is in honor of Holy Names Sister Mary Ryan and in recognition of her lifetime of work making Catholic education available to all families.

Sister Mary has served schools as a teacher, principal, bus driver, morning care provider, development director and as legacy giving director for Holy Cross. She knows firsthand the power of a faith-based education and she has worked tirelessly to support children and their families, according to school staff.

The gift will help Holy Cross build on the school’s success, in which Sister Mary has played a vital role, said school leaders. It also allows Holy Cross to ensure adequate funding to meet the long-term needs of the school.

The gift came in the form of a grant and is restricted to use in the following ways: adding to the school’s endowment, which provides Holy Cross School the ability to ensure accessibility for all families; ongoing infrastructure needs; and providing for the ongoing support and professional development of teachers.

“Since receiving this blessed and generous gift, the school has begun to thoughtfully plan for the use of the funds in light of our needs and the given restrictions,” reads a press release from the school. The purchase of interactive whiteboards took place over the summer, as well as upgrades to the basketball hoops in the gym — which bears Sister Mary’s name. The teachers have expressed excitement about using the new technology to create engaging lesson plans for all learners. Holy Cross is in the process of developing a comprehensive plan to address the infrastructure and maintenance needs of the school.

“The foundation’s belief in the work we are doing, especially in providing North Portland with a diverse and welcoming community for the educational and spiritual development of our young people, is both humbling and inspiring,” said school leaders.