Gaudeamus reminded us what it feels like to make a difference

by Michael Morrisey

Catholic education can be the answer we are looking for during challenging times or in times of need!

Seven-year-old Marcus, the cutest kid in the world, from Our Lady of Unity School in Kansas City, Kan., handed out programs with a smile and offered a welcome to those coming to Gaudeamus. He struggled to pronounce the word Gaudeamus and probably didn’t know it was Latin for “Let us rejoice,” but he sure was having fun. So were the 713 attendees at this year’s Catholic Education Foundation celebration of Catholic education.

Through the inspiration provided by this year’s “Angels Among Us” honorees Esther White and Ben Zarda, the audience was energized by the CEF’s mission: to provide scholarships for children in need. There is no better feeling than helping the less fortunate who are not able to help themselves.

As Topeka’s Mater Dei principal Andrea Hillebert gave her Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann School of Excellence acceptance speech, the guests were touched by stories of families helped by the CEF. The scholarships provided allowed them to keep their kids in Catholic schools. The theme of the evening challenged those in the room to remember the lessons learned from their own Catholic education and to allow those teachings to be the focus of their daily lives.

As nine-year-old Sonia, from Holy Name School in Kansas City, Kan., distributed St. Michael the Archangel medals blessed by Archbishop Naumann, did she realize the people in the room were all Angels Among Us? Did she realize that they were there living out their Catholic education dream to help others? Did she realize that, just possibly, someone in that room had helped her? Did she realize that Catholic education is the answer to working through many of life’s challenges? Probably not, but the Gaudeamus Angels Among Us certainly did!

The large contingency departed with the conclusion of the Gaudeamus celebration. However, the ending of this event is really just the beginning. Each individual went home taking with them the shared stories, along with the smiles of Marcus and Sonia. They left knowing their support was making a difference in a child’s life. The need for this support is never ending!

Catholic education is truly the center of our daily lives!

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