The founding fathers of Union Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a fraternal benefit society established in 1900 for persons of French descent, were determined to provide the protection needed for families and to also offer various benefits that would be attractive to members of all ages. Granting scholarships was one of these benefits. Leaders of the early twentieth century knew from the outset that a better-educated Franco-American meant that their ethnic group would play a larger role and have more influential powers in their local communities and government.

In the early years, much time and effort was spent in building a sound financial base for the society by insuring and enrolling a large number of Franco-Americans. Beginning in 1917, USJB’s solid financial condition opened the door to the awarding of its first scholarships to members who were seeking professional careers or studying for the priesthood.

An effort was led in the early sixties by J. Henri Goguen, who served as USJB President General from 1946-1974 to establish an endowment that would ensure funds would be available on an annual basis for the purpose of awarding scholarships. The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Educational Foundation was thus established in 1966. It was determined that the main purpose of the Foundation was to provide scholarships to members pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies on a full time basis in a two or four year accredited institution. It was also to provide financial aid to those majoring in French and studying for the priesthood.

In 1991, Union-Saint-Jean-Baptiste merged with Catholic Family Life insurance and operated as its New England division. Presently the Foundation continues its mission under the umbrella of Catholic Financial Life, a faith-based membership organization, which puts Catholic values in action by: serving God through serving others; providing financial security; and enhancing quality of life. For more than 140 years, Catholic Financial Life has helped members take control of their future by providing real solutions to everyday challenges. Formed by the merger of Catholic Knights and Catholic Family Life Insurance in 2010, Catholic Financial Life is the second largest Catholic fraternal in the United States.

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