Magazine article Momentum

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Awards Recognize Philanthropy to Catholic Education

Magazine article Momentum

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Awards Recognize Philanthropy to Catholic Education

Article excerpt

President's Award honors Bearing Witness Program

Alabama archbishop, a Minnesota university president, a New Jersey philanthropic couple, an Arizona charitable trust and a Florida foundation will receive the 2008 National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award. The NCEA President's Award will be presented to the Bearing Witness program, which has for many years prepared Catholic school educators to teach about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.

The 18th annual Seton dinner and awards ceremony will be held Oct. 6 at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, DC This year's recipients are Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi, Father Dennis Dease, Anthony and Suzan Giancristofaro, the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, and the George and Mary Kremer Foundation. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), will accept the President's Award on behalf of the Bearing Witness Program.

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), who is regarded by many as the founder of the U.S. Catholic school network.

Most Rev. Thomas J. Rodi

Most Rev. Thomas J. Rodi was installed as archbishop of Mobile on June 6. He had served as bishop of Biloxi since 2001 and remains apostolic administrator of that diocese until another bishop is installed.

In Biloxi, Bishop Rodi was a strong voice for Catholic education, visiting schools and parishes and encouraging a safe Christian environment where a child could grow in faith and knowledge.

After hurricane Katrina completely destroyed five schools and did major damage to six others, he insisted that schools be reopened as soon as possible. He understood that families would not return without functioning schools. They did reopen-in a skating rink, in Baptist churches and in Quonset huts. Post-Katrina enrollment in the diocese is at 98 percent of the enrollment prior to the storm.

Under his leadership, a post-Katrina major campaign aimed to raise $14 million to support Catholic education in schools, parish religious education programs and seminaries. The campaign ended with pledges of $17 million.

The bishop frequently explained that the diocese must have a vision for Catholic education not just for tomorrow, but for the next 1,000 years.

The archbishop is a native of New Orleans. He earned a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in 1971 and a law degree from Tulane University in 1974, before entering Notre Dame Seminary, where he received a master of divinity degree in 1978. He was ordained in 1979 and initially served at parishes in Metairie and Jefferson, Louisiana, and as a judge for the Metropolitan Tribunal for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He earned a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America in 1986.

In New Orleans, he served as director of the Office of Religious Education from 1988 to 1989 and as executive director of the Department of Pastoral Services from 1989 to 1996.

Father Dennis Dease

Father Dease has served as the 14th president of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota since his election in 1991.

Under Father Dease's leadership, St. Thomas has continued its growth in programs and facilities, adding six major buildings to its St. Paul campus and establishing a Minneapolis campus for its Opus College of Business, Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, School of Education, Graduate School of Professional Psychology and School of Law. He also established nationally recognized centers for Catholic studies and Irish studies.

Father Dease opened a residential campus in Rome and began semester-abroad programs in Rome for Catholic studies majors, in London for business majors, in Paris for liberal arts majors and in Glasgow for English majors. …

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