GALA 22:6 Raises Over $330K for Future Catholic School StudentsFeb. 17th, 2016 5:05 pm
"Catholic education in our diocese is not merely surviving. It is alive and well and flourishing into the future,"
- Bishop Malone
Apart from the over $330,000 dollars raised by over 1,100 in attendance at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center on January 28, the night was full of emotion and optimism for Catholic schools. From Bishop Malone's state of Catholic schools address, to the donations made by educators, alumni, students and benefactors, to a touching video of a former Catholic school graduate who tragically passed away, the night was moving to say the least.
Several awards were given out to various contributors to Catholic education in Buffalo and Western New York. The Bishop's Medal is awarded to organizations and individuals that have contributed to the mission of Catholic education. This year featured two recipients, Amy Habib and Judith Nolan Powell.
Amy Habib and her husband founded the Amy J. & Halim A. Habib Family Endowment Fund with The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese to support Catholic education. Habib had this to say in her acceptance speech.
"We in turn have tried to continue the family legacy by serving on community, school and college boards. Our particular interest has been in education, both non-sectarian and religious schools, because of the scholarship needs in these institutions. We feel compelled to help students receive an education from these fine schools."
Judith Powell served on the marketing committee that started the Gala dinner 15 years ago, and has served on the Board of Catholic Education for the diocese ever since. She continues to serve as board chair at Niagara Catholic Jr./Sr. High School. After listing several leaders in WNY who graduated from Catholic schools, she touched on what Catholic education did for them,
"They're all leaders who exhibit confidence and integrity, heal the body and the soul, serve those who have and have not. They're all virtues and character traits they learned within the walls of a Catholic school," Powell said.
The Making a Difference Award was given to Judith M, MacDonald, principal of Southtowns Catholic School in Lake View, who has served WNY Catholic schools for over 35 years. She teaches as Jesus did, using the same philosophy of compassion, understanding, and encouragement. She was awarded for her love for God, love for children and love for her staff. MacDonald puts her heart and soul into Southtowns Catholic School.
Bishop Malone's keynote state of Catholic education featured several powerful statements about the future of Catholic schools,
"I am pleased to report our 35 Catholic elementary schools and five private schools with a total enrollment of more than 10,000 students and over 1,000 teachers and staff members are vibrant, robust and poised for continued growth and excellence."
He touched on the growth of the STREAM program, and how 16 other dioceses have turned to Buffalo for more information on what it encompasses.
"It's truly innovative. It's based on real-life learning. It's preparing our children for the future, and providing a foundation to help them prepare for and prosper in a world none of us has ever seen," the bishop said.
The 16th annual GALA helped to launch Catholic Schools Week, surpassing a total of $3 million since its first. Catholic elementary school graduates earned more than $3.2 million in high school scholarships this past year, while high schools grads earned $138 million in college scholarships.
Thank you to everyone who helped contribute to GALA 22:6, and thank you to Western New York Catholic Schools for continuing our mission and brightening the landscape of Catholic education!