Local Schools

Virtual fundraiser honors Holy Cross former pastors

Melissa Wagner, principal of Holy Cross School in Overland Park, talks to third-grader Avery Sumner about her project. Holy Cross Parish’s “Celebration — Be the Light” virtual event will be livestreamed from 7-7:45 p.m. on Feb. 13. The proceeds from the event will be used for scholarships, facilities updates, curriculum enhancements and technology improvements to the parish and school. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

by Joe Bollig

OVERLAND PARK — The Holy Cross community here knows how to celebrate Catholic education. Indeed, for 20 years, their chief school and parish fundraiser was called “Celebration.”

It began in the rectory basement and grew into the gymnasium, getting bigger and better over time.

For 2021, “Celebration” was redesigned and renamed to be a bigger and better event. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced some changes, it has the potential to be the biggest one yet.

“It was originally scheduled to be at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center,” said Mark Radetic, president and chairman of the Holy Cross business team and member of the event sponsorship team. “Obviously, we had to change that. We decided to make it a virtual event.”

“Celebration — Be the Light” virtual event will be livestreamed from 7-7:45 p.m. on Feb. 13. For information, to participate, make a contribution, sign up for a sponsorship and access the livestream link click here.

People can participate with their computers, cellphones or tablets. They must register for free event tickets by going to the aforementioned website.

This year’s event will include Fund-A-Need donation opportunities, a silent auction, a Golden Ticket game, a cash raffle, video presentations of school families and parishioners, and videos of the Beacon of Light award winners.

The first-ever “Beacon of Light” awards will be given to individuals who made outstanding contributions of time, talent and treasure so students and families could benefit from the culture and experience of Holy Cross School and Parish.

This year’s inaugural awards will be given to former pastors Father Tony Lickteig, Father Mark Mertes, Father Mike Stubbs, Father Bob Pflumm (posthumously) and lay couple Rudy and Margie Garcia, owners of Rudy’s Tenampa Taqueria.

The event’s goal is $160,000. The funds raised will be used for scholarships, facilities updates, curriculum enhancements and technology improvements.

Holy Cross principal Melissa Wagner talks with third-grade students who are learning in person and virtually. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

The parish and school want each student to “be a light” to the world.

“This event is important because it’s all for the students and future generations,” said Melissa Wagner, principal of Holy Cross School. “Our mission at Holy Cross is . . . that we create a welcoming community that teaches the children about the academic and spiritual lives, and make sure we are creating good citizens who go out into the world and make a difference.

“Our hope is that we continue to provide them with the best education. Through Celebration donations, we can provide our students with better technology and curriculum, so they can move to high school and beyond.”

The school depends on this yearly event.

“Fundraising is part of our budget,” said Radetic. “We want to continue to provide a high-quality education in a faith-filled environment. Like so many [other] institutions, we have to make ends meet by going outside of just tuition and, at the same time, support families who [want] Catholic education but can’t afford it.”

“Holy Cross is a school that is inviting and has a great culture, a lot of diversity. We want to sustain that culture, so it’s so important we provide scholarships and build enrollment.”

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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