Dr. Albert Schreder donates to Catholic education all because of a priest who was his high school principal in 1945.

At 90 years old, a question he often asks himself is, “Why does God want me here?” The answer led to his investment in the Catholic Education Foundation, a three-year-old independent group that raises money for tuition for students to attend local Catholic schools.

“I firmly believe in Catholic education,” said the retired dentist who was born and raised on Cabbage Hill in Lancaster.

Gerald Ganse feels the same. He founded CEF to help solve “the number one obstacle to Catholic education: funding.” Ganse and Schreder grew up together and attended St. Joseph School and Lancaster Catholic High School. At that time families didn’t pay tuition.

“The CEF has committed to take the lead in raising funds to allow Catholic schools to be accessible to all families of the Lancaster Deanery,” Ganse said.

During their high school years, war gripped the nation and young men were drafted. That’s what Schreder assumed would happen to him. He served in the Army but not right out of high school. That’s because Father Anthony Kane, LCHS principal in 1945, told the senior basketball star he should go to college.

“I never even thought about it.” Schreder said. “I often wondered, ‘What did he see in me?’ To this day I can’t say.”

Kane helped Schreder get into the University of Notre Dame where he majored in physical education. But the draft happened, and he went to Fort McClellan, Ala., where he trained as a sharpshooter and machine gunner. From there, the Army shipped him to Sendai on the Japanese island of Honshu.

“They looked at me and said, ‘What are you doing here? This is not Infantry. This is service. We have a position open for a dental technician. Do you want to do that?’” Schreder said. “And that changed my whole life.”

He returned to Notre Dame after the service and then went on to the Temple University School of Dentistry.

“Lancaster’s a great, great place,” Schreder said, and his path brought him back here to raise his children who also attended St. Joseph’s as did his wife. Though he looked at other places to settle, he decided to partner with his brother in a dental practice on West King Street. In 1993, he retired and the business moved to Good Drive. It is now managed by his nephew and his nephew’s wife.

“I can only attribute it to divine guidance,” Schreder said. “I blame it all on Father Kane.”

Now, Schreder wants the same opportunity for Catholic children in Lancaster. “I want to get more kids to be able to go to Resurrection and Catholic High,” he said.

Schreder and Ganse visited Resurrection Catholic School Nov. 9 to meet the students awarded $750 each from CEF this year.

“Knowing that people want to help me motivates me to work harder and make them proud,” said sixth grade student Niang K.

The CEF offers an alternate way for people to be philanthropic, Ganse said. “We can work with donors to fulfill their wishes and we can accept any kind of donation.”

For information about CEF, contact Ganse at 717-577-2735.