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Application materials processed from schools need to be postmarked by May 5, 2023.


Please contact Larry James (217.725.4473 or

Parochial School Education


The Virden parishes have never sponsored a Parochial school, but a separate tuition scholarship is available to parish families served by the Pastor of Sacred  Heart and six members of a Board of Trustees. The Amended Caruso-Sperl Irrevocable Charitable Trust for accredited Catholic elementary and high school curriculum is separate from the parish. The history, application process and continued charitable giving is outlined below.


History of the Caruso-Sperl Trust

When Father Sperl was named pastor of Virden Sacred Heart in 1983, he had significant past commitment to parochial education and also a concern for promotion of values by the NEA in public schooling contradictory to Catholic teaching.   He advanced a private trust with his own investments and a large bequest from a childhood friend, Sam Caruso, and continued to add to the corpus with charitable gifts from others eventually creating The Caruso/ Sperl Charitable Trust in 1996 for tuition assistance to parochial high schools. (Father Sperl gathered the families receiving support every November recounting the history and background for establishing the trust and personally handed each family a check made out to their respective high school.)


Father Sperl sponsored a second trust in 2005 from a sizable family donation for the direct support to  St Isidore School in Farmersville for the families choosing to go there for Catholic elementary education.  When the school closed in 2010 the assets defaulted to the Caruso Sperl Trust creating one trust for K-12 Catholic education in accredited Diocesan Catholic Schools and Home School programs for the families of Sacred Heart (Virden), St. Patrick (Girard), and St Mary (Farmersville). Father Sperl retired from active ministry in the parish in 2009. The resultant Amended Caruso/ Sperl Irrevocable Charitable Trust was a product of his own assets along with contributions of his family and friends and many parish families . Following Father Sperl’s retirement, the pastor of Sacred Heart was also assigned Holy Cross in Auburn effectively opening scholarship support there.



Information for Applications for Trust Scholarship

Bulletin announcements for application for the forthcoming school year are posted in early April to the 4 parishes.  Interested registered families process the application through their school’s financial office by early May deadline.


After the deadline, the Pastor and trust board review applications and project awards. Families are notified of the projected scholarship amount at that time. There are no guarantees for amounts or recurrent awards. The amounts are sent directly to the school or approved Catholic Home School program upon completion of the first quarter of school.


Contact for Applications:   Larry James President,  217-725-4473


Continuing the Charity--Donations to the Trust:  As a 501 c 3 tax deductible entity donations or gifts in kind may be accepted to add to the corpus of the Amended Caruso/Sperl Irrevocable Charitable Trust


Contact for Donation: Mark McGrath Treasurer P.O. Box 148, Thayer, IL 62689


Besides Rev. James Palakudy S.A.C., pastor the remaining members of the trust board are Georgene Jones, Secretary, Tony Rothering, Ron Pitchford and Matt Maynerich.


Father Sperl Biographical Information:

Father August Joseph Sperl was born May 4, 1920 (2 weeks before St. Pope John Paul II). He was raised in Springfield with 2 sisters but spent time in the children’s Home in Alton during his mother’s tuberculosis illness and again when she died.  He credited his vocation and that of his sister, Augusta Sperl, OSF, to his mother’s prayers. 

Father Sperl had hoped to serve as a missionary but when his own health was considered frail he returned to Springfield eventually succeeding with permission to pursue the Diocesan priesthood at a seminary in Little Rock, AK.  He was ordained in 1954 coming to Virden as pastor in 1983 at the age of 63. (Several of his assignments had been in churches or schools named Sacred Heart.)


He loved the children of the parish and helped sponsor annual ski trips to Chestnut Mountain in Dubuque, Iowa and a major pilgrimage to World Youth Day 1993 in Denver with Pope John Paul II.  He was named administrator at age 75 and continued with addition of Holy Rosary parish Palmyra.  After it closed he was given the addition of St Patrick Church in Girard before his retirement in September 2009 at the age of 89.  He spent his final 5 years in residence at the Hospital Sisters of St Francis where his sister resided. He presided at his final mass there on August 15, 2014 and died that November 12.  He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Springfield.

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