September 19, 2014

Celebrating Catholic School Values Awards event is Nov. 5

By John Shaughnessy

19th Annual Celebrating Catholic School Values Award Event
 
Date and time:
Nov. 5, 6-8 p.m.
 
Location: Grand Hall of Union Station at Crown Plaza Hotel in Indianapolis
 
Featured speaker: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington
 
Honorees: Father James Wilmoth, pastor of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis, and Robert Desautels of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis will receive Career Achievement Awards. Daniel and Beth Elsener of St. Barnabas Parish of Indianapolis will receive the Community Service Award.
 
Purpose: While honoring people who live the values of their Catholic education, the event raises funds for scholarships to help low-income families enroll their children in the Catholic school of their choice.
 
Corporate sponsorship and ticket information: Contact Rosemary O’Brien in the archdiocese’s stewardship and development office by phone at 317-236-1568 or 1-800-382-9836, ext. 1568. She can also be reached by e-mail at robrien@archindy.org.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick will likely share his approach to life when he is the featured speaker at the 19th annual Celebrating Catholic School Values Awards event.

The 84-year-old archbishop emeritus of Washington once told a reporter, “My great gift is presence. My shtick is that we are all brothers and sisters in God’s one human family.”

Those guiding principles also mark the lives of the four people who will be honored during the event in Indianapolis on Nov. 5.

The Career Achievement Award will be presented to Father James Wilmoth, the pastor of St. Roch Parish and the chaplain of Roncalli High School, both in Indianapolis.

Robert Desautels of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis will also receive the Career Achievement Award during the event at the Grand Hall of Union Station at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Indianapolis.

And Daniel and Beth Elsener of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis will be honored with the Community Service Award.

The awards are part of an event that raised a record $3.1 million in donations last year to help children who need assistance in receiving a Catholic education.

The goal for this year’s celebration is $5 million, according to Michael McGinley, chairperson of the Celebrating Catholic School Values Awards event.

“That’s our goal, and we will accomplish it,” said McGinley, the father of five children who all attend St. Pius X School in Indianapolis.

“This effort truly gives children throughout Indiana the opportunity to attend the Catholic school of their choice. And it provides parents the opportunity to give the gift of a Catholic education to their child.”

Donations and pledges for this year’s event will be accepted through Nov. 3.

The fact that last year’s total nearly tripled the previous record of $1.1 million shows just how much the event and its focus have changed in recent years, say its organizers.

The initial game-changer occurred during the 2011-12 school year, when state-funded vouchers first became available to allow children to attend the private or parochial school of their choice, says G. Joseph Peters, special consultant in the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education.

To promote the change, the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education and Office of Stewardship and Development focused on the benefits of Indiana Tax Credit Scholarships and their connection to Indiana school vouchers.

A Tax Credit Scholarship of at least $500 per child, given for one year, allows an eligible student to receive the state school voucher the following year and for up to 12 years of education in a Catholic school—a potential of $60,000 in state voucher assistance, according to Mary McCoy, archdiocesan assistant superintendent for Catholic schools.

From a donor’s standpoint, there is also the appeal of a tax benefit from contributing to a scholarship. With a 50 percent state tax credit and, for example, a 35 percent federal deduction, a donor can give $10,000 toward scholarships for as little as $3,250, McCoy noted.

For those who pay taxes at a federal rate of 28 percent, and with a 50 percent state tax credit, a donor can give $10,000 toward scholarships for as little as $3,600, she said.

That impact of that double benefit—making Catholic education an option for all families and creating a substantial tax credit—increased even more in 2013. That’s when Indiana law was changed to allow for “Tax Credit Scholarships to apply to income-eligible students already in our Catholic schools from kindergarten through 12th grade,” Peters noted.

“It’s the most far-reaching tax credit scholarship program in the country.”

The impact on Catholic schools in the archdiocese has been dramatic. During the 2013-14 school year, about 4,749 students in the archdiocese received a voucher. This year, more than 6,000 of the archdiocese’s nearly 24,000 students are on vouchers, McCoy said.

“Every school in the archdiocese has students attending that are receiving vouchers,” she added, noting there are 68 Catholic schools. “Tax Credit Scholarship needs reach well into the middle class, especially families with multiple children in our schools.”

While the emphasis on fundraising has changed, so has the approach to the Celebrating Catholic School Values Awards event, Peters said.

For years, the celebration was a dinner in a spacious ballroom at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Now, he said, the event is shorter, less formal and less costly—putting an extra focus on helping to make Catholic education an option for as many families who want it for their children.

“Tax Credit Scholarships will allow schools to serve many more students,” McCoy said. “Through the Celebrating Catholic School Values event, we can, as Catholics, have an abundance mentality—that we don’t just help those in our school, but also students in other schools.

“It’s Catholics working together.”
 

(To make a donation or a pledge for a Tax Credit Scholarship, contact Rosemary O’Brien in the archdiocese’s office of stewardship and development at 317-236-1568 or 1-800-382-9836, ext. 1568. She can also be reached by e-mail at robrien@archindy.org. You can also learn how to help children receive need-based scholarships by visiting the website, www.archindy.org/stewardship/ccsv. For more information about voucher eligibility, visit the website, www.i4qed.org.)

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