By Barb Arland-Fye
The Diocese of Davenport has launched an annual scholarship program through the generosity of the late Marguerite Ritzinger, a Sigourney native.
This year, the diocese will award $1,000 scholarships for the first time to each of 10 Catholic students who attend or are preparing to enter college. Application deadline is April 1, and applications are available on the diocesan Web site: www.davenportdiocese.org.
Ritzinger, who died in 2005, left $388,770 to the diocese with the stipulation that half of the money go toward seminarians’ education and half toward scholarships for students to attend colleges or universities, said Char Maaske, the diocese’s chief financial officer.
Seminarians already have benefited from the funds set aside for their education and the money for that purpose has been exhausted. The scholarship program took longer to develop because the diocese didn’t have expertise in that area and set up a committee to investigate the process. Now the diocese is ready to implement the scholarship program, Maaske said. The committee decided to give $1,000 scholarships each year to Catholic students spread among college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Eligible candidates must be Catholic.
Father David Wilkening, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Solon, is a member of the scholarship committee and a distant cousin of Ritzinger. He described her as an astute business woman who spent most of her life outside of Iowa working as a corporate secretary. She grew up in Sigourney and was a member of St. Mary Parish there.
“She was just very generous. She decided that the money she had was a way to help people,” said Fr. Wilkening. She was especially interested in seminarian education and student scholarships. Of the 10 scholarships to be awarded this year, two will be designated for undergraduate seminarians, Maaske said. Scholarships will be awarded annually until the funds from the estate run out.