This week, the St. Rita Family hosted the annual President’s Reception Dinner at Beverly Country Club in Chicago. All President’s Club members – benefactors who have given gifts of $1,000 or more to St. Rita of Cascia High School - are invited to the annual dinner held in their honor.
Last night’s event attracted more than 100 generous benefactors who had the opportunity to learn about the many programs and new initiatives taking place at St. Rita. The highlight of the night was the keynote speech given by senior Connor Cahill from St. John Fisher Parish. Connor captivated the audience with his story, his obvious love for St. Rita, and the impact the school has had on him and his entire family which includes his brother, St. Rita sophomore, Patrick.
Connor is a member of the St. Rita Student Government and co-captain and starting center on the varsity football team. He’s also a member of the varsity baseball team. He earned second team all-conference honors in the CCL Blue this football season, and he’ll lead the Mustangs this Friday night against Simeon in the first round of the IHSA Class 7A state playoffs.
While most of the typical President’s Dinner crowd is made up of alumni going back to the 1940’s, including Gene Brauweiler ’42, celebrating his 75th graduation anniversary, younger alumni were also represented. From the St. Rita Class of 2001 former football standout Chris Burhans and Kevin Giltmier were in attendance as well as former baseball and basketball standout Matt Eastman and Matt Zawaski from the Class of 2002. “These young alums represent the future of St. Rita of Cascia High School, and to see them at an event like this only helps to strengthen the already strong foundation the 24,000-plus St. Rita alumni have laid for the future of the school,” said St. Rita President, Mike Zunica.
By: Hon. John Griffin '69
While the Irish Fellowship Club has been around since 1901, its charitable arm, the Irish Fellowship Club Educational and Cultural Foundation, is celebrating its 40th anniversary of providing grants to Chicagoland parochial high schools. The Foundation held a reception at St. Ignatius High School on October 23, 2017, to recognize this milestone. Since 1972, the Foundation has donated over $2,300,000 to high school scholars.
Presently there are 36 schools receiving grants. Approximately 30 schools were represented at the reception. Irish Fellowship Club president, Chris Kozicki spoke of the challenges facing the Irish when they came to America and the importance of faith and education to them. “Catholic Education was very important to help catholic immigrant’s children become successful in society. Many past and current leaders and members of the IFC have attended many of these great high schools that are here today. Forty years ago, under the direction of President Art Dunne and Don Ryan, the club made a commitment to fund scholarships for children of Irish decent at our local Catholic high schools. Through the years there have been demographic shifts and some schools no longer have children of Irish decent but the IFC is proud to honor our commitment to these schools.” Foundation President, Jack Hartman echoed Kozicki’s theme and emphasized the Irish Fellowship’s commitment to Catholic education and the effect it has had on its graduates.
Maura Gribble of Mother McAuley, Dan O’Leary of St. Ignatius and Tim Sullivan, a graduate of Marist High School, expressed their gratitude and the impact their grant and Catholic education has had on their lives. The keynote speaker was Mary Dempsey, president of DePaul College Preparatory. Ms. Dempsey pointed out that 79,000 students attend 229 schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago. The graduation rate is 98% and over one billion dollars of taxpayer money is saved by Catholic education. She joined in thanking the Irish Fellowship Club for its support.