[dropcap type=”4″]N[/dropcap]ight of Hope, the signature event for the Catholic Schools Office in the Diocese of Phoenix, will celebrate Catholic education at every level — from preschool to college.

Msgr. James Shea, president of the University of Mary, will be the keynote speaker. The North Dakota-based university opened a Tempe campus two years ago. His talk will appropriately address “Catholic education: Walking with the saints.”

The event is set for Nov. 1 — the feast of All Saints Day — at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. Now in its seventh year, Night of Hope will carry on its tradition of celebrating Catholic education and the gifts it offers for students, alumni and the community at large. Night of Hope benefits the diocesan Catholic schools’ tuition endowment fund, with the goal of providing scholarships to every student seeking a Catholic education.

Guests of the formal affair can expect student greeters, handmade thank you cards from the youngest Catholic school scholars, live jazz music from high school students and centerpieces that harken some back to their days of wearing plaid uniforms.

They can also expect a broader video competition that offers additional student perspectives on the difference Catholic school made for them, plus the financial support that helps keep them enrolled.

Last year’s inaugural competition was limited to high school students. A junior high division opened up this year with potential judges for both coming from the media world.

“I think it is so important to give our students the opportunity to contribute in a substantial way. I love their perspective on things. It is always unique and thoughtful,” said Frances McMahon Ward, chair of technology at Xavier College Preparatory.

Her team of students won last year’s video contest. Audio of the Mass choir singing about women’s legacy in the Church underlies images of campus life. That’s spliced with student testimony about their Catholic school experience.

McMahon Ward’s students found it to be a rewarding experience. They said it wasn’t as much about the award as it was conquering the challenge presented to them.

“They came together and built something from scratch. Their ­passion and engagement in the ­creation of this video really empowered them to celebrate the love of Xavier. They were not only proud of the video they made, but they were also proud to be able to proclaim ‘I love Xavier because ….’” McMahon Ward said, noting the video’s theme.

Students posed it as a question to more than 30 peers and got a variety of responses. Some, she said, reflected on the ability to call upon God during a particularly challenging day while others highlighted the caring community where they could be their authentic selves.

That’s an opportunity that some 250 students — about the size of some smaller schools in the diocese — would have missed out on had it not been for the $120,000 in emergency aid given out from last year’s Night of Hope proceeds.


Night of Hope

When: 6 p.m. Nov. 1

Where: Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, 340 N. Third St., Phoenix

Info: (602) 354-2345[/quote_box_center]