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Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington addresses attendees of the 24th American Cardinals Dinner May 10 in Washington. The dinner raised nearly $1.7 million for scholarships to help students attend The Catholic University of America in Washington.
Catholic News Service photo
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington addresses attendees of the 24th American Cardinals Dinner May 10 in Washington. The dinner raised nearly $1.7 million for scholarships to help students attend The Catholic University of America in Washington.
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK — New York made history and broke its own record — to the tune of $2.1 million in scholarships — when it hosted the 25th American Cardinals Dinner on behalf of The Catholic University of America in Washington.

Each year, a different archdiocese or diocese hosts the black-tie event for the benefit of the university, which was founded by the U.S. bishops more than 125 years ago.

This year's dinner, held May 30 at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, marked New York's third time as host. At the 12th annual dinner in 2001, a total of $2 million was raised, a record that stood until this year. New York also hosted the second dinner in 1991.

"Daily do I meet proud and grateful alumni" of Catholic University, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said in welcoming remarks at the evening dinner he co-hosted with John Garvey, the university's president. The gathering drew 750 guests, many of whom who were university alumni, friends and major benefactors. Cardinal Dolan earned a doctorate in American church history at Catholic University.

The university's mission to God, church and country, the cardinal said, is carried out through its graduates -- among them priests, men and women religious, corporate executives, public servants, teachers, scholars and Broadway performers.

"We've even got the general manager of the New York Yankees, folks," said the cardinal, referring to Brian Cashman. Since its inauguration, the Cardinals Dinner has raised more than $31.5 million to support scholarships for Catholic University students.

The dinner followed a late-afternoon Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Cardinal Dolan was the principal celebrant and homilist, with visiting cardinals, bishops and clergy as concelebrants.

At the end of the Mass, the cardinal asked the congregation to salute Catholic University's patroness, Mary, as the Marian antiphon "Regina Coeli" was sung.

Eight American cardinals attended the event. In addition to Cardinal Dolan and Cardinal Edward M. Egan, New York's retired archbishop, others attending were Cardinals Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Francis E. George of Chicago, Sean P. O'Malley of Boston (who delivered the dinner invocation), and Donald W. Wuerl, of Washington, Catholic University's chancellor.

Other prelates at the dinner were Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington; Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia; Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States; and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, chairman of the university's board of trustees.

Father Michael Morris, the New York Archdiocese's archivist, credits Catholic University of America for his vocation to the priesthood. He received his bachelor's in European history and master's in American history there. He was ordained for the archdiocese in 1989 after completing studies at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie.

"Having gone to Catholic U. back in the late '70s, early '80s was really the catalyst that pushed me to the priesthood," he told Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper. The "dignity, bearing and kindness" of the priest professors there personally resonated with Father Morris.

"Even though they were academics, they were also very pastoral," he said.

At the dinner, Thomas Moran, president, chairman and CEO of Mutual of America, received the Cardinal's Appreciation Award. Moran is a product of Catholic schools of the New York Archdiocese, including college, and a major benefactor of the Catholic Church, including Catholic University.

"Catholic education allows every child to achieve their potential," Moran said after the story was told of how he was unable to speak when he began grammar school.

"The nuns of the Daughters of Divine Charity worked with him and by the time he was in second grade, he didn't stop talking, and he hasn't stopped talking," quipped Rosanna Scotto, news anchor of WNYW's "Good Day New York," who introduced Moran.

Moran thanked the cardinals, archbishops and clergy present. "Each of you knows that our faith is strongest when it's an educated faith. And we can thank the Catholic system for that education. The Catholic University of America is the symbol for all of us for Catholic education and great education."

Charlie Rose of PBS served as master of ceremonies.

Garvey, in his greeting, thanked all in attendance for their support of the university and acknowledged the presence of his predecessor as president, Bishop David O'Connell of Trenton, N.J.

Next year's Cardinals Dinner is scheduled to be in St. Louis on April 24, hosted by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.

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