Supporters of Catholic Education Attended the 12th Annual Bishop’s Gala
More than 350 supporters of Catholic education attended the 12th annual Bishop’s Gala sponsored by the Niagara Foundation for Catholic Education at Club Roma, St. Catharines, April 10, 2015.
The gala is a fund-raising opportunity for the foundation. Funds raised provide financial support to students who would otherwise be unable to pursue post secondary educational goals.
After the Opening Ceremonies, Anthony Corapi, Master of Ceremonies, led the official welcome, greetings and acknowledgement of special guests given by: Peter Ferren, Niagara Foundation for Catholic Education president; Fr. Paul MacNeil, NCDSB chair and John Crocco, NCDSB director. Prior to Grace, Bishop Gerard Bergie delivered inspiring words about the Hope of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in connection with Catholic Eduation.
Frank Iannantuono, NCDSB superintendent, introduced the Award of Distinction ceremony. The 2015 recipients were the late Joseph Noonan, who served Catholic education for nearly 45 years as a teacher, administrator and a trustee and Anna Racine, a tireless parent volunteer. She has donated countless hours on Catholic school councils at her children’s elementary and secondary schools, as well as the Niagara Catholic Parent Involvement Committee (NCPIC) and the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC).
Several members of the Noonan’s family attended the celebration, including his widow Claire, who delivered a heartfelt and often hilarious speech about her husband’s life-long commitment to Catholic education.
She recounted a story told at her husband’s retirement party by the late Alexander Kuska, who first hired Noonan as a teacher. “This young, cocky Irishman comes into my office and says, ‘I’m Joseph Noonan, I’m Irish, and I’m Catholic, and I won’t come for a cent less than $900. ’” Mrs. Noonan recalled Kuska saying. “My name is Alex Kuska, I’m Polish, and I’m Catholic. Sit down.” Then Kuska said, ‘I didn’t tell you then Joe, but we had already decided to pay you $1,000 for the year.”
She also spoke of her family’s gratitude at having Noonan recognized for what he always saw as his birthright as a fourth-generation Catholic educator.
“Joe’s life was one of unwavering faith, love and dedication for his family and students, and was living proof of God’s blessings,” she said. “Our family thanks you for this great honour to Joe.”
Ms. Racine had family and friends on hand to share her special evening, and like Mrs. Noonan, she expressed her gratitude for the honour, but also for having had the honour of serving students for so many years.
“It is moments like these that remind me that Jesus came to serve, and not to be served,” she said. “I am so grateful for all of the words of congratulations that I have received, but rest assured, this award is not about me at all. Rather, it is because of so many others. And it is not, about thanking me, for all I have done, but for thanking all of you, for what you have done for me.”