Lamar and Rita Hunt honored with NCEA Elizabeth Ann Seton Award

Lamar Hunt, Jr. and his wife Rita are joined by Bishop George Murry, NCEA Board Chairman, Dr. Thomas W. Burnford, NCEA President/CEO, NCEA Board Member Angela Dinger, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan. and Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph following the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award presentation. (photo courtesy Dan Peters)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — Every year, the National Catholic Educational Association presents the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award to individuals whose support and/or service impacts Catholic education and the well-being of America’s youth. Individuals are nominated through their local diocese and the selected honorees gather in Washington, D.C., to receive the award.

The Seton Catholic Education Visionaries Award is named after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in recognition of her lifelong dedication to teaching.

On Oct. 2, Lamar Hunt, Jr., and his wife Rita received the Seton Award in recognition of all the couple does to build stronger families and communities through Catholic education in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Several programs Lamar and Rita Hunt are involved in that speak to building strong families and communities through education are the Bright Futures Fund and FIRE Foundation, in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese and the Catholic Education Foundation, in the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan.

Lamar Hunt Jr., and his wife were selected on the basis of their first nomination, it was later learned.

The Hunts were accompanied to Washington, D.C., by Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Dr. Dan Peters, KCSJ diocesan School Superintendent, Pat Burbach, Associate Superintendent, Jeremy Lillig, Managing Director of the Bright Futures Fund, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan.

A scholarship in honor of a Seton Award recipient is presented to a deserving Catholic school student in their local community at the awards banquet. Two scholarships were presented in honor of Lamar and Rita Hunt, one in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese and the other in the Kansas City, Kan., Archdiocese. Aprille, a 2017 graduate of Holy Cross School, a Bright Futures Fund school, now attending Notre Dame de Sion High School, received a scholarship that will go toward her tuition expenses. Adrian, a senior at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kan., a Catholic Education Foundation school, received the other scholarship which will go toward his tuition expenses.

Lamar Hunt, Jr., well-known to Kansas Citians as the owner of the Mavericks Hockey Team and son of the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs has always believed that opportunity breeds responsibility. Throughout his life, Hunt has made it his goal to use his time, talents and treasure to do all he can to give back to the communities he holds dear.

In founding the Loretto Foundation, named for the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, Hunt created an vehicle to use the resources at his disposal to benefit others. The Sisters of Loretto built the chapel in the mid-19th century but discovered after it was completed that there was no direct way to access the choir loft. Without additional funds or materials to build a stairway, the Sisters began a novena to St. Joseph for aid. The day after the novena ended, a visiting carpenter built a spiral staircase with no visible means of support, but left without receiving payment or thanks and the wood used is not local to the area. The Sisters believed it was St. Joseph himself or someone he sent in answer to their prayers. The story stuck with Hunt ever since he first heard it and it has informed the Loretto Foundation’s mission, which seeks to help others without expectation of recognition or reward.

The Loretto Companies include Loretto Commercial, Loretto Sports Ventures, Loretto Properties and the Loretto Foundation. The website describes the Foundation as “dedicated to helping build strong families and supporting communities, devoted to promoting the intrinsic dignity of all human beings with a special focus on the poor and those who are underserved by society.” The Loretto Foundation works to help strengthen both families and communities, while addressing the root causes of poverty and other societal problems; promoting physical health, spiritual well-being, social good, emotional wellness and economic prosperity.

Hunt contributed to the building and opening of two new schools in the KCSJ diocese in the past year. Dr. Peters said, “Without Lamar Hunt, Jr., St. Michael the Archangel High School and Our Lady of Hope Grade School might not be here.”

The desire to help others and give back to the community has been a constant throughout Hunt’s life, inspired partly by his father, Lamar Hunt, who taught his children to “think of others first and put ourselves last.” After studying music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and playing flute in the Kansas City Symphony for 10 years, Hunt attended Dallas Baptist University, where he received his Master of Arts degree in Counseling, with a focus on cognitive-behavioral therapy. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), he worked with at-risk teens, homeless individuals, and persons recovering from addiction and trauma.

Hunt, a convert to Catholicism, credits his wife Rita with his conversion and considers his faith the driving force in both his work as a counselor and with the Loretto Foundation, as well as his on-going involvement with a number of faith-based and charitable programs and organizations.

He collaborates with the Catholic Radio Network, and through the Loretto Foundation he helps to build strong families and communities by focusing on Catholic grade schools and high schools in the Kansas City area. Among the numerous charities the Loretto Foundation has supported are the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Bright Futures Fund, FIRE Foundation, the Catholic Education Foundation and St. Paul’s Outreach.



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November 25, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph