by Jill Ragar Esfeld
Gaudeamus has long been one of the top events of the fall season in Kansas City.
And this year, the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) annual fundraising gala is available to everyone.
“It’s just such a powerful experience,” said CEF executive director Vince Anch.
“And we’re trying to recreate that virtually by bringing the mission to life through video presentation,” he added.
Gaudeamus funds scholarships for students to attend Catholic schools around the archdiocese. The 1,500 students assisted through CEF are among the most vulnerable in our urban and rural communities.
The event has gained its first-rate reputation from the outstanding speakers and video presentations featured each year — including signature elements such as the presentation of the School of Excellence Award and recognition of the Michael and Patty Morrisey Angels Among Us honorees.
This year, everyone can share in the experience by registering for Gaudeamus-at-Home and streaming the live event on Oct. 24.
Area Catholics can watch the powerful presentations with friends and family or, better yet, bring the benefit gala home by choosing to host a dinner or watch party.
Many are already on board with the idea.
“We’re hearing about quite a bit of creativity in terms of party plans,” said CEF director of development Libby Knox. “People are doing everything from having it at home, to their parish parking lot, to man caves, to barn parties.
“A group of our Young Futures is working on a rooftop party downtown.”
Darren and Janet Lovick, this year’s event chairs, have tested the dinner party options and given both enthusiastic thumbs-up.
“You can get basically a heat and eat meal (from Fiorella’s Jack Stack),” said Darren. “It is fully prepared — you pick it up the day prior and there are instructions for how to put it together and rewarm it. It’s very good!”
The second option requires some preparation.
“[It’s great] if you like to cook and your friends like to cook,” he said. “It’s actually a blast to make this food and plate it and have dinner.
“We did it at home and we had a great time with our friends.”
Watch parties are another option for enjoying the event at home; or simply register for the private link and participants can design their own experience.
Of course, the ultimate goal is support for disadvantaged students, and this year the need is greater than ever.
“This year’s Gaudeamus will be our most important,” said Anch. “We’ve got a waiting list [for scholarships] and we’ve had record numbers of requests.”
Due to the pandemic, many families have lost incomes.
“We want to do what we can to give scholarships to help them stay in school,” said Anch. “We’re committed to $2.6 million this year.
“And if we can do more — we’ll fund as many as we possibly can.”
This year’s chairs hope people will consider Gaudeamus-at- Home as a way to celebrate Catholic education.
“We really believe,” said Janet, “Catholic schools provide the opportunity to encounter God and to serve others while providing a good education with an underlying moral compass.
“Which, in this day and age, is so incredibly important.”
Join the festivities
Everyone throughout the archdiocese is invited to join Gaudeamus-at-Home and celebrate Catholic education while introducing family and friends to the mission of CEF.
The virtual event is Oct. 24. The preview show begins at 6:45 p.m. with the program following at 7 p.m. It will be shown via livestream and is viewable on a smart TV, tablet, computer or smartphone.
There is no charge for the livestream; however, you must register for a link to the program.
You can select your preferred level of participation by visiting the website at: www.cefgala.org.