by Jill Ragar Esfeld
More than $1 million was raised this year at the Catholic Education Foundation Gaudeamus event. That’s a record amount.
But organizers were more impressed with the head count.
For the first time in the history of the event, Gaudeamus had major competition — it fell on the same night as Game 4 of the World Series.
Would people still show up to support Catholic schools? Or would they be at other events supporting the Royals?
“We hoped and we prayed,” said CEF executive director Michael Morrisey. “And the 1,437 turnout just blew our minds.
“We were flabbergasted and thankful, and just very appreciative that folks thought enough of the mission to come and be with us.”
Those attending weren’t disappointed.
Gaudeamus itself was turned into a Royals watch party — beginning with guests waving their blue table napkins and chanting “Go Royals, go CEF!” at the direction of Morrisey.
World Series updates were given throughout the evening. And after the event, the game was shown on big screens while guests were treated to wine and a specialty coffee bar.
In between World Series updates, Gaudeamus lived up to its reputation of providing nonstop entertainment, thanks to the skills of planning committee members — especially Sandy and Tom Long who have chaired the event for 11 years.
Highlights of the evening included dinner, accompanied by vocalist Ron Gutierrez and the Holy Spirit School Concert Choir, and a moving personal testimony from CEF student Sophie Sadrakula.
Sophie, an eighth-grader at St. Patrick School in Kansas City, Kansas, expressed her gratitude for being able to go to a Catholic school.
“St. Pat’s has taught me so much about the Lord,” she said. “They push me to be my best.”
Sophie said that she now feels confident that she is headed to college and a bright future serving God.
“On behalf of me and all the other kids who have been helped by CEF, thank you,” she said.
Superintendent of schools Dr. Kathy O’Hara, along with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, presented the School of Excellence award to St. Matthew School in Topeka (see page 16).
CEF board chair Hamp Henning then recognized John and Bridget Murphy as this year’s honored “Angels Among Us.”
Taking the stage for a moment, John Murphy called the experience humbling.
“We want to say thank you to the real angels,” he said, “the parish priests, principals and staff of the schools who give of themselves every day so kids can get a Catholic education.”
He reminded the audience that CEF still has hundreds of children it can’t afford to help.
“As a Catholic community,” he said, “we cannot and will not let that happen.”
Archbishop Naumann closed the evening telling the audience, “What can renew our culture are strong families, and the greatest partner is Catholic schools.
“Bless those who have so generously responded to the call of stewardship.”
The evening’s master of ceremonies, Stan Cramer, reminded guests to mark their calendars for Oct. 24, 2015, “when Gaudeamus angels will meet again.”