After years of fundraising, Pre-Associate Jason Wilhite has realized his dream, of building a new school in Laos and giving children there access to quality education.

This week, Jason shared with the Viatorian Community that the organization he has campaigned for, Pencils of Promise, announced efforts to break ground on a new school in the village of Bouam Phor , and that 137 students already were enrolled.

Jason Wilhite makes a presentation about Pencils of Promise at the 2018 VYC.

“This is incredible news,” says Fr. Corey Brost, CSV. “Thanks, Jason, for being part of our community and getting us involved.”

Jason has dreamed of building a new school since 2017, when he started a chapter of Pencils of Promise at St. Louis University, which he attended after graduating from Saint Viator High School.

At the outset, he set out to raise $35,000 or enough to build a new school. Along the way, many Viatorian communities stepped up to help his initiative, including Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee, Bishop Gorman High School and St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas, Saint Viator High School — through its annual student trivia night and dress down days — and the Viatorians themselves who approved a social justice grant donation.

Rendering of proposed new school

Many of these fundraising efforts started after Jason described his mission at the Viatorian Youth Congress in 2018, which he co-led. Its delegates were asked to take back their ideas for social justice action plans to their schools and parishes, based on the Viatorian initiatives they heard at the Congress.

Ultimately, the Viatorians combined with St. Louis University and the city of Omaha to raise the total amount needed to build the school.

Traditional structure in

“Because of the efforts of our national Viatorian community, we contributed more than $8,000 to the campaign,” Jason said. “This movement would not have been impossible without the leadership and  generosity of Viatorians across the country.

“To each of you—thank you for showing me what Fr. Querbes’ phrase ‘divine love in motion’ means in our modern world,” he added. “I will continue to share updates as they come.”