After a two-year hiatus, guests were happy to gather in person for the 11th Annual Seton Scholarship Dinner on Nov. 7 at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station.
Dr. Gail Kingston, superintendent of schools for the diocese, discussed the importance of a Catholic education. The Saint Bernard School Choir filled the large ballroom with song, leading guests in “God Bless America,” followed by “Hashkiveinu.”
Jden Gonzales, essay winner and eighth-grade student at Sacred Heart School in Groton, kindly read his essay entitled, “What a Catholic Education Means to Me.”
For years, the diocese has honored the commitment of those involved in our Catholic school education. It started in 2010 when Bishop Cote was awarded the Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D. Award for Contributions to Catholic education in the Diocese of Norwich.
Since its inception the award has been presented yearly to three individuals who embody this commitment to exceptional education within the diocese.
Honored at this year’s awards dinner were Andrea D. Hoisl, director of Faith Events; The Very Reverend Dennis Perkins, Vicar for the Clergy and pastor, Saint Michael Parish, Pawcatuck; and Frederic S. Smith, teacher and coach, Saint Bernard School, Uncasville.
Andrea Hoisl, a former teacher at Xavier, has dedicated more than 30 years to Catholic education. “Educating young people about God's unconditional love and mercy for the past 35 years has been an honor and a privilege,” she said. “I go to work every day feeling blessed to be living out my vocation. There is no one luckier than me.”
Her husband of 32 years, Tom, welcomed Andrea to the podium for her acceptance speech, and with her many friends and family members by her side she graciously accepted her award.
Father Perkins, a teacher at St. Michael School for 11 years, was introduced by Principal Doris Messina.
“It has been a privilege for me to be a pastor and teacher in a parish where its Catholic school has been such a significant and vital part of the community for over 145 years,” Father Perkins said.
More than 200 guests, along with Father Perkins’ mother, father and sister, Saint Michael parishioners, teachers and faculty joined us for this very special moment.
Frederic Smith, a recently retired teacher and coach, dedicated 53 years of service to Saint Bernard School. He is also a proud Saint Bernard graduate of the class of 1964.
“Though my profession is teaching, an essential part of my experience has been learning from my students and colleagues,” he said. “This is the true reward of my time at Saint Bernard." Introduced by his lifelong friend and colleague Art Lamoureux, Fred accepted his award while a large Saint Bernard contingent applauded his enduring dedication to Catholic education.
Thank you to all those who attended the 11th Annual Seton Scholarship Dinner, and to our generous sponsors and supporters. We appreciate your commitment to Catholic education. Proceeds from this event will provide Catholic school students with tuition assistance.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy and healthy New Year. God bless you all.
By Gina Foster
All Photos provided by Christopher Foster, Light Photography, LLC