Bishop Thomas Olmsted calls it a “tragedy” that the Diocese of Phoenix employs teachers in its Catholic schools who cannot afford to send their own children to the schools where they teach. He is doing something about it. The 27th Annual Crozier Gala has as its goal raising funds to assist those teachers with the cost of a Catholic education.
“We have 2,500 empty seats in our schools,” the bishop said. “There is no one more deserving (of assistance) than those individuals who have chosen the honorable profession of teacher to make Catholic education accessible for their own families.”
Bishop Olmsted is dedicating this year’s Crozier Gala to bringing a transformational response to this priority. Lisa Staren who is the event’s co-chair this year with her husband, Ed, echoed the bishop’s sentiment.
“We rely on these teachers every day to provide our children with a foundation of faith and discipline,” she said. “It is imperative that their children have the same opportunities.”
The 27th Annual Crozier Gala will be held April 18 at Xavier College Preparatory’s Founders Hall. Organizers anticipate that the effort to help Catholic teachers educate their own children will be ongoing.
The venue is a new one for the event which traditionally has been held at one of the area’s premier hotels.
“We felt we should celebrate Catholic space and introduce attendees to the Xavier campus,” Ed Staren said. “We are planning on making it amazing. We are blessed to have such a beautiful, state-of-the-art Catholic venue and are grateful to Xavier and to Sr. Joan [Fitzgerald, BVM, Xavier principal] for opening their doors to celebrate this occasion.”
For the first time, the Katzin Crozier Honor Choir of 60 students representing all six Valley Catholic high schools will perform under the direction of music directors Betsy Sherf, Paul Olson and Adam Thome.
“The Katzin Crozier Honor Choir is an expression of what Catholic education is all about — bringing goodness, truth and beauty to help us appreciate God’s beauty,” Ed said.
F. Michael and Sheila Geddes are the Bishop’s Crozier Honorees this year and are being recognized for their lifetime of service and leadership both locally and internationally.
“It is my hope that others will shape their lives from the Geddes’ example by giving to the community with their time, commitment and funds,” the bishop said.
The gala raises funds primarily through sponsorships and ticket sales, but donations are also accepted. To purchase tickets visit ccfphx.org/crozier.
In addition to raising funds to assist teachers, gala attendees will assist individual parishes, schools and missions from throughout the diocese by purchasing a leaf from the Wish Tree. Wishes are accepted for $100, $250 and $500. Attendees select from the Wish Tree and send the donation directly to the requesting facility. Past wishes have included training materials for religious education, science equipment, uniforms for students in need and altar server garments. Wishes can also be filled by those not attending the gala through the website.
“Through this specific call, we hope to strengthen our ability as Christians to share the good news of Jesus with our diocesan families and youth,” Lisa Staren said.
— By Mary Dahl, The Catholic Sun.