History of the Dinner

"Give me the youth, and I will give you the future."  Fr. Vincenz Scheffels  1876

Expressing the Spirit of WNY

In February 2001, during Catholic Schools' Week, the Diocese of Buffalo initiated the "Celebrate Catholic Education Dinner" with a dedicated mission of providing needs-based tuition assistance for families across Western New York.   Through the efforts of a dedicated committee, working with the Foundation office, the Dinner attracted an overflow crowd of Western New Yorkers to celebrate their belief in and support of Catholic education. 

The dinner is the expression of the support and spirit of our community. It is the opportunity for foundations, corporations, parishes and educational institutions throughout Western New York to support our children and their schools. 100% of funds raised provide needs-based tuition assistance.  It is also the vehicle to honor those organizations, individuals, universities and foundations across Western New York that have lived out the mission of Catholic education and positively impacted this community. 

Inaugural guest speaker, Tim Russert, told the story of the impact of Catholic education. "I would not be here tonight if it were not for my Catholic education in Western New York." 

Honoring Those Who Serve the Catholic School Students of Western New York

At the event, Tim established the Sister Lucille Socciarelli / Father John Sturm Making a Difference Award.  Through a video presentation Tim, (until the time of his death) had given this award each year at the dinner to outstanding teachers for their dedication and service to Catholic education and the students it serves. His son continues his father's presentation.

Sister Lucille Socciarelli / Father John Sturm Making a Difference Award Honorees

2014  Mike Wojcicki, Mary Queen of Angels School, Cheektowaga

2013  Mary Jane Liszewski, Immaculate Conception School, East Aurora

2012  Patty Page, Holy Family School, LeRoy

2011  John and Margaret Volpe, St. Joseph School, Batavia

2010  Denise Amato, SS. Peter & Paul, Williamsville

2009  Lyn Rezabek, St. Ambrose Academy

2008  Mary L Posch, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Niagara Falls

2007  Cheryl A. Schmelzer, St. Barnabas School

2006  Sr. Timothy Howard, OSP, Catholic Central

2005  Jeanne Kielbasa, Our Lady of Czestochowa

2004  Amelia Czerwinski, ST. John Vianney, Orchard Park

2003  Francis Hill, Queen of Martyrs, Cheektowaga

2002  John Curtin, St. Josaphat, Cheektowaga


The Bishop's Medal recognizes the abiding value of a Catholic education in an increasingly complex world - an education based on faith, academic excellence, and a commitment to peace, service and discipline.

Bishop's Medal Honorees

2014  Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, D.D.,S.T.L.; Robert M. Bennett

2013  The Women Religious Past and Present; The Joy Foundation

2012  Rev. Mark J. Wolsk; Gerard and Barbara Mazurkiewicz

2011  Frank and Rosalie Ciminelli; Rev. Msgr. Paul J. E. Burkhard

2010  Ann L. Sean; Rev. Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti

2009  Rev. Msgr. Francis Braun, and Sr. Jeanne Eberle; Paul Koessler (posthumously)

2008  Carl and Carol Monante; Rev. Jim Joyce and Rev. Edward Durkin

2007  Paul D. Bauer; Daniel R. Gernatt, Sr.; Rev. Msgr. Francis Weldgen; Trocaire College

2006  James V. and Mary G. Glynn; Rev. Msgr. Rupert A. Wright; Villa Maria College

2005  Hilbert College; Robert M. Greene

2004  D'Youville College; Richard and Karen Penfold

2003  Niagara University; John R. Oshei Foundation

2002  J. Walter and Kenneth Koessler Families; Canisius College

2001  BISON Fund; Move of Faith; St. Bonaventure University

In successive years, the Education Dinner continued to draw even larger crowds to celebrate and hear the messages and inspiration of Keynote Speakers such as:

2014  Secretary R. James Nicholson, United States Secretary of Veteran Affairs and former United States Ambassador to the Holy See

2013  Maureen Orth, journalist and special correspondent Vanity Fair

2012  Rev. Joseph McShane, SJ President of Fordham University

2011  Chris Lowney, author of Heroic Leadership

2010  Darla Romfo, President, Children's Scholarship Fund, (2010)

2009  Patricia O'Hara, Dean & Professor of law, Notre Dame University (2009)

2008  Don Criqui, Hall of Fame Sports Commentator and Voice of Notre Dame Football, and Kenmore native and a product of Catholic education

2007  Rev. Ronald J. Nuzzi, Ph.D., Director of the University of Notre Dame's Catholic Leadership Programs in the Alliance for Catholic Education

2006  Robert T. Healey, founder and trustee, Catholic School Development Program

2005  The Very Rev. David M. O'Connell (2005), 14th President of the Catholic University of America

2004  JoAnn Falletta, international maestro

2003  George Weigel, renowned Catholic theologian

2002  Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York

The evening is a celebration of the dedication, ingenuity, perseverance and the willingness to answer God's call.

The Dinner's name has changed to GALA 22:6 "Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6


Join us at GALA 22:6 by registering here!