Flags from across the globe, symbolizing the presence of the Church throughout the world, fluttered in the breeze in Xavier College Preparatory’s courtyard as more than 600 people streamed into the 28th Annual Crozier Gala April 9.[quote_box_right]
One of the goals of the event — hosted by the Catholic Community Foundation — is to support the Crozier Catholic School Scholarship Program that helps diocesan employees better afford a Catholic education for their children. During 2015, 325 families and 605 children were assisted by the program.
This year’s distribution should go farther with the faithful raising 45 percent more than last year. The Crozier Gala raised $517,280 with $310,000 supporting the Crozier Catholic School Scholarship Fund and $40,000 to CDA.
And while the theme of Catholic education was played out with chalkboards, the ringing of a school bell that called guests to dinner, and a blending of voices from the choir representing all six Catholic high schools, Major League Baseball scored a few points too.
Derrick Hall, president and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, served as master of ceremonies for the evening. He joked about the plethora of religions in his family tree, none of them Catholic. Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa and J.J. Putz, special assistant to the D-backs and a former MLB pitcher, entertained the crowd with their insights into the life of a baseball player.
Putz, whose children attend a local Catholic school, said he liked the fact that the staff and teachers shared his family’s core values. “I went to a Catholic school and my wife did too,” Putz said. “The morals and the values that we have, we want to instill in our children. The school for us is an extension of that goal that we have.”
Sandy and Jim Bruner were awarded the 2016 Bishop’s Crozier Award for Lifetime Leadership. The couple has lived in Scottsdale for more than 40 years and founded the Scottsdale Museum of the West which opened last year. The Bruners have also been deeply involved in the life of the local Church, at both the parish and diocesan level. Jim was the first chairman of CCF’s board of directors.
“When Sandy and I moved here in 1969, we never would have imagined standing here tonight,” Jim said. “I’m not sure we deserve the accolades but we do accept anyway.”
“We want to thank all of you with whom we have served,” Sandy said. “You have touched our lives and we are better for knowing you.”
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted thanked the Bruners for the “inspiring example” of their love for each other.
“Both of you have hearts that desire to serve God and serve others. Thank you for all you’ve done … your faith and your love bolstered you to succeed.”
Crozier chair couple Kathleen and Tom Harris thanked those who sponsored the event: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, the Arizona Diamondbacks, J.P. Morgan Chase and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
“It’s a great time for Catholics to celebrate,” Kathleen said. “Celebrate our faith, celebrate our friends, and celebrate our family.” Pope Francis, she said, is calling on Catholics to celebrate the diversity of the many nationalities that make up the Church.
Tom noted that on any given Sunday, the Diocese of Phoenix has Masses being said in 17 different languages and representatives of at least nine distinct ethnic communities were on hand for the celebration.
In 2015, some $217,000 was awarded to students through the Crozier Catholic School Scholarship Program. A video presentation at the gala featured diocesan employees and their families from Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Phoenix. One parent, a music teacher, expressed thanks to Crozier gala supporters. “Having my children close to me each day is like a dream come true,” the man said.