||Opening the “door of faith” to students is an important and integral part of the Catholic education offered at St. Ambrose Academy in Madison. The school’s dinner to support its mission and student scholarships will be held December 15. (Contributed photo)
MADISON -- On Saturday, Dec. 15, St. Ambrose Academy in Madison will host its sixth annual benefit dinner, gathering people from around the Diocese of Madison to highlight the importance of Catholic education and to celebrate the December 7 feast day of its patron, St. Ambrose.
In this Year of Faith, as the diocese focuses on the theme of “Evangelization Through Beauty,” the dinner will highlight the beauty of education in the faith. Among the entertainment will be music and speeches by St. Ambrose Academy students, alumni, and special guests, including Bishop Robert C. Morlino.
The dinner, which has been called “the event of the season” for Madison Catholics, last year helped raise pledges of nearly $100,000 for the academy to benefit scholarships and its mission of educating young Catholics grades six to 12 in the classical tradition.
Focusing on beauty
In the English classes for the upperclassmen at St. Ambrose Academy, Dr. Connie Nielsen and her students have been discussing “beauty.”
As one of the transcendentals, or properties of being, and as the theme of the Diocese of Madison’s focus in the Year of Faith, the topic is important to the education and the faith of her students.
To help her students explore “beauty” before they delved further into texts and Church teaching, Nielsen asked them to write essays on the topic. Not surprisingly, she found that the topic has intrigued them, she said. Students have come into her room outside of class to talk about beauty: “It’s really gotten into their heads,” she said.
Several of the students will share those essays at the dinner. But Nielsen said that won’t be the end of the topic, which will be opened in not only her English class, but other teachers will also incorporate the subject in art, religion, and other disciplines.
“We’ll continue to study the question and look at ideas for how, at their present stage of life, in their vocation, to evangelize through beauty. Does that mean you have to be Michaelangelo to evangelize through beauty, or can you do that in your everyday life?”
You are invited
St. Ambrose Academy Sixth Annual Benefit Dinner
All are welcome to celebrate a festive evening toasting Catholic education in the Diocese of Madison and the feast day of school patron St. Ambrose.
• Saturday, Dec. 15
• 5:30 p.m. Cocktail Hour, Cash Bar
• 7 p.m. Dinner
• $75/plate, six guests at the reduced rate of $400, or table of 10 at the reduced rate of $600
NOTE: parties of less than 10 may be seated with other parties. $45 of the $75 cost is tax-deductible
• Madison Marriott West, Michigan Room, 1313 John Q. Hammons Dr., Middleton
RSVP to St. Ambrose Academy, 608-827-5863
Helping to educate
St. Ambrose Academy, which was founded in 2003, has been hosting its annual benefit dinner for five years. It has grown considerably — much like the school itself — since its early days, and now takes place at the Madison Marriott West. Last year, more than 500 people attended the dinner.
The Annual St. Ambrose Academy Benefit Dinner serves as the biggest fundraiser of the year, said Scott Schmiesing, the principal at St. Ambrose Academy. It allows the school to offer students the classical education in the Catholic tradition, particularly through the funding of scholarships.
The school, which will mark a decade in Catholic education next year, was formed in response to a desire by Catholic families to “place the education and formation of their children squarely in the context of the Catholic Faith.” In keeping with the Catholic tradition of charity, much of the funding for the school comes from benefactors.
Through donations and service, benefactors contribute to the education of students in the Catholic faith. In the 2011-12 school year alone, nearly $100,000 in tuition reduction was divided over a third of enrolled students.
Highlighting Catholic education
But the dinner also serves as an opportunity to bring together people who believe in the importance of Catholic education. Benefactors from around the diocese will gather for good food, good entertainment, and a good cause.
As in previous years, representatives from other schools and organizations will be attending to provide information highlighting the Catholic education community.
“It’s a great evening where about 500 people will get together and enjoy social time right before the Christmas season,” Schmiesing said. “It’s a great event where they can share their faith and live it through St. Ambrose Academy and what we can offer.”