Ninth annual School Bell Breakfast draws 800

Mary Anne Hammond sings “All are welcome in this place,” with 800 people singing along during the opening ceremonies of the ninth annual School Bell Breakfast held in Union Station’s Grand Hall April 27. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The annual School Bell Breakfast, benefitting the diocesan Bright Futures Fund, began nine years ago with about 250 people attending. This year, the breakfast held at Union Station was attended by 800 donors, civic and religious leaders, including Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., students of Our Lady of Hope and Holy Cross schools, the diocesan Superintendent of Schools and Associate Superintendent, teachers and principals, diocesan staff and local Catholic high school administrators.

The morning began with Mary Anne Hammond, one of the founding parents of the FIRE Foundation, singing “All are Welcome in this Place,” followed by Jeremy Lillig, Executive Director of the Bright Futures Fund and diocesan Director of Stewardship and Development, leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

Bishop Johnston prayed the invocation. Then John and Holly Balzer, the 2017 Honorary Chairs, spoke briefly. As breakfast got under way, the annual St. Thomas Aquinas Awards, named for the patron saint of Catholic schools, were presented. The year’s honorees were attorney Jim T. Seigfried, presented to his daughter Susan Crowe, in honor of her father, who died in 2015. Retired businessman John Walker, a founder of the Southeast Kansas City Serra Club, parishioner, volunteer and coach at St. John Francis Regis Parish and School, and Tom and Virginia Coppinger, Visitation parishioners, members of the Serra Club, and volunteers for Catholic school and organization fundraisers among other Catholic activities, also received the St. Thomas Aquinas Award.

Kristen Goers, third grade teacher at Our Lady of Hope School, was presented with the Dorothy Lambert Teacher of the Year Award. She earned her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Regis University in Denver and her Masters in Multi-Disciplinary Education from Webster University. She has taught at the school 11 years, and founded the track teams at both Our Lady of Hope and St. Thomas More schools.

The keynote address was given by Father Donald Calloway, a member of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. A former high school dropout and drug addict who was jailed multiple times and twice institutionalized, he converted to Catholicism as a young man. He received a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Master of Divinity and Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.; and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology with an emphasis on Mariology from the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton in Ohio. His talk recounted his self-destructive habits and activities and his radical conversion to Catholicism.

A video showed students chatting about faith and prayer at school. A Holy Cross student confided, “I feel safe when I’m talking to God.”

More than $300,000 was donated through the School Bell Breakfast for need-based scholarships to offset tuition at Our Lady of Hope and Holy Cross schools.

As the breakfast ended, Holy Cross students posed with Addie, the school’s new Reading Therapy dog. Despite all the people passing by, she was very calm.

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Wednesday
October 18, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph