Uvalde Students and Families Seek Healing at Catholic Extension Summer Camp

Catholic Extension has a long history in Uvalde and a powerful connection with the victims and survivors of the shooting.

Students from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, at a summer camp run by Catholic Extension
Students from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, at a summer camp run by Catholic Extension (photo: Courtesy photo / Catholic Extension)

Students from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the site of the tragic shooting on May 24, joined their families this month at a summer camp designed to help them begin the process of healing from their traumatic experiences.

“Camp I-CAN,” which stands for “Inner strength, Commitment, Awareness, and Networking,” is the latest initiative organized by the non-profit Catholic Extension to help the Uvalde community in the aftermath of the shooting.

"As a Church we cannot forget what has happened in Uvalde. This entire community has witnessed unspeakable violence, and an unfathomable loss of young life and innocence,” Joe Boland, Catholic Extension’s vice president of mission, told CNA. “The Catholic Church is a true agent of mercy and healing in Uvalde for these suffering children and families.”

Camp I-CAN, which took place July 15-28 at St. Henry de Osso Project Center in Uvalde, Texas, “provided 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders a safe space to heal, have fun, and gently reintegrated the children into a school-like setting around their peers,” according to a recent press release. It included faith-based activities, music, arts and crafts, physical activities, and other forms of entertainment for children to acclimate themselves to difficult circumstances.

Catholic Extension, according to their website, is a “fundraising organization that helps ensure that all American Catholics can practice their faith within vibrant faith communities.” Their stated mission is to “connect poor and remote Catholic communities with essential financial support, educational partnerships, and infrastructure.”

Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, said, “It is our goal, that through the spiritual accompaniment of religious sisters, the children and their families of Uvalde, Texas feel God’s presence, and are reminded that they are not forgotten or alone in the coming year and beyond.”  

Sister Dolores Aviles, the Teresian leader of Camp I-CAN, is an Uvalde native. She felt called to help after she heard God speak to her, saying “Let the children come to Me.”

“This week, we wanted the children and their families to know that we are praying for them, we love them, and that we will also take action for them. That’s what community is,” said Sister Aviles.

Catholic Extension has a long history in Uvalde and a powerful connection with the victims and survivors of the shooting.

The Catholic Extension press release said, “Uvalde was one of the first-ever communities Catholic Extension supported, helping build Sacred Heart Church in 1906.” CNA reported that, following the shooting, 11 of the victims’ funerals took place at Sacred Heart Church.

Catholic Extension plans to fund more initiatives as time passes, and they said that Camp I-CAN is the “first of many.” For more information on ways to support the children in Uvalde through Catholic Extension's programs, please visit give.catholicextension.org.  

Pallbearers carry the casket of Irma Linda Garcia and her husband, Jose Antonio Garcia, during their funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas, on June 1, 2022. - Irma Garcia, a teacher, was killed May 24 in the elementary school shooting and her husband Joe Garcia died two days later of a heart attack.

Guns and School Shootings (June 11)

The national response to the tragic gun violence of recent weeks, including mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have fallen along predictable party lines. The U.S. Bishops and many Catholic voices have responded in ways that address both policy issues related to gun access as well as other underlying cultural factors. Register senior editor Jonathan Liedl will report on what he calls the “both/and” Catholic response to this national crisis. But first we turn to a Church leader who more than 20 years ago was among the first Catholics who responded to the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Jim Beckman, who was a part of the youth ministry team at St. Francis Cabrini Church, shares how a mass shooting in his town changed forever the way he did ministry.