St. Ambrose Academy holds annual Benefit Dinner Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Liz Frias, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

st ambrose dinner
St. Ambrose Academy junior Jaimee Prado, fifth from left, gave a student testimony at the Benefit Dinner. Her topic was “Greatness in Smallness.” (Contributed photos/Bridget Wittwer)

MADISON --On Saturday, Dec. 12, at the height of the busy Advent season, over 500 guests from around the Diocese of Madison and beyond gathered at the Alliant Energy Center to celebrate St. Ambrose Academy.

Historically held on or near the school’s patronal feast day of December 7, the St. Ambrose Academy Annual Benefit Dinner is an opportunity for guests, school parents, students, faculty, and several apostolates throughout the diocese to come together to celebrate classical, Catholic education in Madison.

“Everywhere I turned, I met joyful Catholics who have good reason to believe our graduates will live for Christ --will live for greatness,” said Joseph Draves, the school’s development director.

“They have confidence our students are beginning to renew the world little by little, in all the many vocations and careers to which God is calling them.”

Student testimony

The evening’s student testimony came from Jaimee Prado, a junior who began at St. Ambrose as a transfer student in the fall 2014.

After enrolling at a local Christian school upon her family’s arrival in Madison, Jaimee realized quickly that she desired to learn more about her Catholic faith and soon transferred to St. Ambrose.

Jaimee shared the many traits of St. Ambrose that she likes, from the rigor of the classes to the friendships she has made, particularly with the other girls in the junior class.

“At a larger school, we probably never would have met, because our personalities are so different,” she remarked.

Keynote address

Shawn Carney, co-founder of the 40 Days for Life Vigil, gave a spirited keynote address. After a good laugh with the audience over the weekend’s impending Dallas-Green Bay football game, the Texas native underscored the unique qualities of St. Ambrose as a school and in its mission.

He specifically highlighted the need for Catholic education to help students seek Christ, referring to St. John Paul II, who would impress upon his penitents and spiritual directees the importance of their independent, free decision to follow Jesus.

Carney emphasized that the Catholic education offered at St. Ambrose is assisting its students in making the same decision, which will allow these students to be a light to a world that so often prefers darkness.

The evening concluded with brief remarks from Bishop Robert C. Morlino, who has been a beloved friend to St. Ambrose since its foundation in 2003.

Bishop Morlino spoke specifically on the Jubilee Year of Mercy and the excitement surrounding the Holy Year. He ended with a playful warning to the St. Ambrose faculty “to be prepared when your students ask you to be merciful with their homework.”

Funding scholarships

The donations received at the Benefit Dinner, the school’s primary fundraiser, will allow St. Ambrose to offer a classical, Catholic education to its 89 current students, mostly through the funding of scholarships.

A third of St. Ambrose families will receive tuition assistance during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Visibly moved by the generosity of the evening’s guests, Draves was particularly heartened by the sacrifice of a future St. Ambrose student.

“A highlight of the evening was learning from one of our school moms that her daughter made a generous $10 donation from her summer chore earnings. I couldn’t help but think, ‘A child will lead us!’

“The message, that a good Catholic education is foundational to live for Christ, and that we should spare no sacrifice to make this gift available, clearly resonated with this young girl. In fact, I’ve made a copy of her gift, to be a daily reminder and inspiration to build an even stronger future for St. Ambrose, this young lady, and so many others,” said Draves.


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