BRANFORD — Nearly 350 people who attended the annual Archbishop’s Columbus Day Breakfast on Oct. 6 turned out to show they share a common bond — their love of and passion for the mission of Catholic school education.
Organized by the Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Schools, the fundraiser at the Woodwinds netted more than $70,000 for tuition assistance at 10 Catholic elementary schools in Greater New Haven.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair thanked the donors for their contributions to Catholic schools and called for more state and federal government support for parents and schools.
According to information provided by FACS, there are 12,618 students enrolled in 53 schools in the archdiocese — saving towns in those areas $205 million in levied taxes.
Archbishop Blair later congratulated eighth-grade students from each of the benefiting elementary schools who were honored for their outstanding achievements.
The guest speaker was Marine Corps. Lt. Gen. Ronald S. Coleman, now retired, who shared his vision for Catholic education and its role in providing a “moral compass” and a foundation for students.
Preceding Coleman at the podium was Dominick Xavier Delaney, a 2017 graduate of St. Rita School in Hamden, who offered recollections of his Catholic grade school experiences, ranging from laser fights with the sisters who taught there to 10 years of hearing his teachers tell him every day to “be your best self.” He is a freshman at Xavier High School in Middletown.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, who sent three of her children to St. Aedan School in New Haven, also welcomed guests and recognized Catholic education for providing a foundation of academics and values for children.
Providing entertainment for the event were students from Our Lady of Mercy School in Madison, while the Pledge of Allegiance was led by students from St. Lawrence School in West Haven. Special recognition was also given to Milford’s St. Mary School principal, Frank Lacerenza, who was named 2017 Principle of the Year by the Office of Catholic Schools.
Emcee for the breakfast was Allison Demers Campagna, news director for WJMJ. For the second year, the breakfast was broadcast live on WJMJ’s Jerry Kristafer Show.
“I believe in it (Catholic education),” said Brian A. Giantonio in his role as chairman and president of the FACS Board of Trustees. “I’ve seen the success of the students in terms of their core values, confidence and leadership. That’s why I do this.”
Leading sponsors for the breakfast were Sinatro Agency General Insurance, Farmington Bank and the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council.