(Photo from left to right: Michael E. Driscoll, Esq., Mother Mary David Riquier, S.C.M.C. & Bishop Michael R. Cote, William J. Russell, CPA)
Seventh Annual Seton Scholarship Dinner
Honors Three Individuals Who Help Keep
Our Diocesan Schools Strong
On Sunday, October 30, 2016, the Mystic Marriott Hotel in Groton, Connecticut was the setting for the Seventh Annual Seton Scholarship Dinner, honoring three individuals who have made major contributions to the success of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Norwich. Mother Mary David Riquier, S.C.M.C., Principal at the Academy of the Holy Family, Baltic, CT and Director of Development for the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of the Church; Attorney Michael E. Driscoll and his colleagues at the law firm of Brown Jacobson, P.C. who handle the legal needs of our schools; and Mr. William J. Russell, C.P.A., recently retired Diocesan Finance Officer after serving 12 years in this role, were all honored as this year’s recipients of the Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D. Award for Contributions to Catholic Education in the Diocese of Norwich.
The evening began with a cocktail hour, allowing the nearly 200 attendees to mingle with friends, family, and colleagues. Monsignor Robert L. Brown, Chancellor, Diocese of Norwich, welcomed all and thanked them for coming to support the honorees as well as Catholic education. He remarked:
“This evening, our focus is on the formal Catholic education of our youth. Calling our Catholic schools, ‘Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service,’ Our Holy Father Pope Francis said, ‘Our generation will show that it can rise to the promise found in each young person, when we know how to give them space. This means that we have to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives; to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything that they can be.’ The Pope pointed out that the Catholic school is that place, that space, to which he is referring. It is ‘a place to learn compassion, a place to develop the whole person – mind, body and spirit.’ In short, it is the place to develop ‘a big heart that is open to God and to others….And to always love Jesus more and more’.”
The evening continued with the Invocation from Monsignor Leszek Janik, J.C.L., Vicar General of the Diocese of Norwich, reflecting on the Year of Mercy. Following the Invocation, Mr. Henry Fiore, Jr., Superintendent of Schools, and his wife Eileen performed a song of prayer that added to the spirit of the evening…touching the hearts of all in a special way. Two of the participants in the opening ceremonies of this year’s Seton Scholarship Dinner were grandchildren of honoree, Mr. William Russell. Austin Russell and Dylan Russell led the Pledge of Allegiance.
After dinner, Mr. Henry Fiore, Jr. presented a report on the state of the schools in the Diocese. In his report, Mr. Fiore expressed, “Catholic Identity is what separates us from other schools. It involves the daily instruction of the Catholic faith, participation in the Liturgies, community service, both globally and locally, the importance of daily prayer, devotion to Our Lady, and the ability to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. This means that the faith must be lived daily by each and every employee of our schools. We reinforce good Christian behavior toward fellow students, teachers, and all adults.”
Following his report, Mr. Fiore introduced this year’s essay contest winner, Dominic Alvarez, a student at St. James School, Danielson, Connecticut. Writing on “What Catholic Education Means to Me,” Dominic’s essay was one of the highpoints of the evening, with the crowd standing after the reading and erupting in applause. Dominic talked about how a Catholic education has prepared him for a successful future. He stated, “A Catholic education is truly a lifestyle. One way to live in God’s graces is to live life as a good person, as one of God’s children and as one of Jesus’ disciples. In the future there will be times where we cannot control the outcome of things. There will be times where we cannot predict what will happen. Through Jesus, the church and faith in God, I am confident that I will have learned the skills to steer this uncontrollable destiny of mine in the right direction.”
One by one, each of the honorees were introduced by a friend or colleague who provided insight into why each of these individuals is so deserving of this award.
Mother Marie Julie, S.C.M.C. in speaking about honoree, Mother Mary David Riquier, S.C.M.C. offered, “Simply put, Mother believes in the goodness of people. She finds something to smile about, to commend and to nurture, no matter what’s at stake…. I’ve been blessed to watch her in action, and she has taught me more about school, about life and about the inner beauty of every child and adult than any teacher I’ve ever had. Mother Mary David is not simply an educator; she is someone who is making the world a better place because she cherishes people.”
Monsignor Robert Brown, Chancellor of the Diocese of Norwich offered insight into honoree, Mr. William Russell’s contributions to Catholic Education, “Responding to the challenge to make Catholic education possible for our youth, Bill gave generously of his time and talents in supporting and promoting Catholic education. His tireless efforts are well known in the schools, parishes, institutions and seminary located in the four (4) counties of Eastern Connecticut and Fishers Island that comprise the Diocese of Norwich…. His strength of character, his expertise in finance, his business acumen, his knowledge of the Church, his readiness to serve God, speak so beautifully of his faith in God, his love for the Church, and his ready willingness to serve.”
Attorney Michael Driscoll was introduced by his colleague from Brown Jacobson, Attorney Jeffrey Buebendorf. Attorney Buebendorf highlighted Michael’s dedication to the Diocese, “Members of Brown Jacobson can attest to the countless hours he (Michael) has dedicated to supporting the Diocese, humbly offering to those who seek it his sage advice and careful guidance. I expect that each of the three Bishops under whom he has served, along with the many others within the Diocesan Community who have sought Mike's counsel over the past three decades, have found his wisdom and insight to be invaluable.”
The Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D., Bishop of Norwich, joined Mr. Henry Fiore, Jr. after each honoree was introduced and presented them with a Waterford Lismore Bowl, etched with the crest of Bishop Cote. The Seton Scholarship Dinner ended the evening with Bishop Cote offering the Benediction. Next year’s Seton Scholarship Dinner will be held on Sunday, October 29, 2017 at The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station, Haddam, Connecticut. Mark your calendars now to join us next year!
All proceeds from the Seton Scholarship Dinner, along with funds contributed by the Catholic Foundation assist Catholic elementary school students in the form of tuition assistance.
We would like to thank our sponsors: Seton Sponsor – Gowrie Group/Zurich Insurance; Aquinas Sponsors – Brown Jacobson, P.C., Barbara and Ernest Hamanaka, and Saint Joseph Church – New London; Newman Sponsors – Citizens Bank, Arthur J. Gallagher & Company, Dr. Jeremiah and Virginia Lowney, Mystic Aquarium and the Shine Family. Thank you also to all of our advertisers, donors and attendees for making the 7th Annual Seton Scholarship Dinner a success!