St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Awards Recognize Philanthropy

By Contreras, Diego | Momentum, September/October 2009 | Go to article overview

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Awards Recognize Philanthropy


Contreras, Diego, Momentum


Honorees will be celebrated in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5

Six St. Elizabeth Ann Seton awards and one President's award will be presented to significant supporters of Catholic education during the 19th annual Seton Awards ceremony Monday, Oct. 5 at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, D. C.

The Seton Award is NCEA's highest honor, given in recognition of significant philanthropic, leadership or service contributions to Catholic education. The award is named in honor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), the first native-born American saint.

Art and Gaye Birtcher

Art and Gaye Birtcher have been major benefactors of the Diocese of Orange in California. In 1997, Art cochaired the campaign to build Santa Margarita Catholic High School and in 2008 the couple funded renovation of the St. Margaret Mary Alacoque chapel at the school. Art and Gaye co-chaired the committee to construct and were benefactors for the new Mission Parish School of San Juan Capistrano.

Together they headed the capital campaign to construct the Sacred Heart Retreat Center, which is visited by 12,000 children each year. They were the founders and sole benefactors of two "Rely on Christ" conferences for the youth of the diocese.

Many of their philanthropic efforts have been directed to the Mission San Juan Capistrano, California's most historic mission. Art Birtcher led the campaign to build the new mission basilica in 1982 and in 1985 Art and Gaye donated the mission bells for the basilica's bell tower. In 2003 they funded renovation of the historic rectory of the mission. In 2005 they began the design, installation and funding of the 40-foot tall, gold Baroque 18th century grand retablo in the basilica.

Gaye Birtcher is a founder of the Camino Health Center, an outreach ministry of Mission Regional Hospital and chair of the board of Birth Choice, five anti-abortion, full service health clinics and two homes for pregnant women in crisis.

Art is chairman of Birtcher/ Anderson Realty, a 70-year old national real estate, advisory and management company. He is a past member of the board of directors of the University of San Diego and Mount St. Mary College, current member of the Orange Catholic Foundation and memberelect of the Servite High School board of trustees.

The Birtchers live in San Juan Capistrano, California.

Dean and Mary Calland

Dean and Mary Calland have helped students from disadvantaged backgrounds graduate from high school and enter college. Dean is the president of the board of the Crossroads Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping at-risk inner-city youth graduate from high schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Dean and Mary were the catalysts for the campaign to raise $6.5 million and provided a generous donor gift to generate additional matching funds.

Dean is ecstatic about the work that is being done by the Crossroads Foundation. "Why do I get excited about Crossroads?" he asked in a January speech. "It's about results and cost effectiveness. For a modest investment of about $26,000 per child over four years, Crossroads achieves extraordinary educational and psychosocial outcomes. We take teenagers with huge risk factors in their lives and get them focused on academics, require them to volunteer in their communities, teach them to be leaders and set them on the pathway to college and career."

The Callands have made significant personal donations to provide four-year scholarships for students of Catholic elementary schools to attend seven of the area's Catholic high schools.

Dean and Mary Calland reside in Pittsburgh. Dean Calland is a founding shareholder in the Environmental Health and Safety Services Group of Babst, Calland, Clements and Somnir. The practice focuses on hazardous and toxic substance regulation and enforcement.

The Callands have five children who are attending or have attended Catholic colleges and universities. …

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