The 16th annual Catholic Education dinner - GALA 22:6 - will be held on Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. More than 1,200 guests are expected to attend the event, which is The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo's largest annual fundraiser for Catholic education.
Bishop Richard J. Malone will give the keynote address for the 2016 dinner marking his fourth year of celebrating Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo. Proceeds from the dinner will be used to fund needs-based tuition assistance for students attending Catholic elementary schools throughout the eight counties of Western New York. The 2015 event raised more than $330,000.
According to Richard C. Suchan, executive director of The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, nearly 1,381 students, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike, are attending Catholic schools through this diocesan scholarship assistance effort this school year, with an average grant of $1,275.
"The dinner raises approximately 38 percent of these funds," Suchan said. "While average Catholic school tuition costs have increased by 6.8 percent, family income has decreased by 3.6 percent. As a result, there are currently many families on the waiting list for financial assistance."
The 2016 Bishop's Medal honorees include Amy Habib and her family, who have made a significant impact on Catholic education in the community. Since the dinner's inception, the Habib family has given graciously to help hundreds of children receive a quality, faith-based education and build a deeper relationship with the community. Their steadfast generosity, including establishment of the Amy J. and Halim A. Habib Endowment Fund, has touched the lives of many.
Judith A. Nolan Powell will also be honored with the Bishop's Medal. Nolan Powell is deeply committed to her faith and community, in addition to being a friend to Catholic education in particular. She serves as the current chair of the board at Niagara Catholic Junior/Senior High School, was an employee and trustee of Trocaire College, is a former trustee and chair for the Canisius College Women's Business Center, past chair of the Advisory Board of Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls and was a member of the Diocese of Buffalo's Board of Catholic Education and chaired the marketing committee that inaugurated the annual Catholic Education dinner.
Judith M. MacDonald, principal at Southtowns Catholic School in Lake View, will receive the Sister Lucille Socciarelli/Father John Sturm Making A Difference Award because of her love for God, love for children and love for her staff. MacDonald puts her heart and soul into Southtowns Catholic School. She puts every effort into making it a school where children can learn in a safe environment, where parents can be assured of a quality educational experience, and where a community can see Catholic values and beliefs in action.
Pia and Eugene O'Connor will serve as the chair couple of this year's dinner, and Laura Zaepfel is the vice chair.
GALA 22:6 will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.
For more information, to donate or for tickets, contact Laura DeMizio, special events coordinator of The Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, at 716-847-8370 or visit www.frcdb.org.