Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Community in Wayzata, whose relationship with Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis spans two decades, hosted its 20th annual St. Pat’s Day Gala fundraiser in March. This week, HNOJ presented Ascension School with the proceeds from this event, combined with money raised from a second collection during Mass–for a total donation of $113,000.
The volunteer-driven St. Pat’s Day Gala raises tens of thousands of dollars for Ascension each year. The 2011 event included both a live and a silent auction, with items ranging from CMA Music Festival tickets to handmade artwork by HNOJ School students. The evening also featured dueling pianos and dinner catered by Broders’ Pasta Bar.
The attendance at this year’s gala was the greatest in recent years, with an estimated 450 attendees, and the event raised a gross total of $144,753–nearly doubling the $73,779 raised in 2010. The majority of the proceeds went to Ascension, and some of the money raised will go to support HNOJ School, celebrating the partnership between the two schools and the value of Catholic education.Contributions from the HNOJ community over the past 20 years have been of great assistance to Ascension, where approximately 85% of students come from families with income below the poverty level. Most of these families cannot afford the subsidized $1,400 per year tuition, but instead of turning children away, Ascension relies on charitable donations for their success.
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In spite of the formidable challenges these children face, the environment of safety and achievement fostered at Ascension pushes them to achieve at levels equal to or exceeding their more affluent peers. In 2010, 76.1% of Ascension eighth graders scored proficient or above in math on the state MCA-II test and 85% scored proficient or better in reading–numbers comfortably exceeding the state average.
“Our students are successful because we are dedicated to meeting the needs of every individual student no matter what,” explains Dorwatha Woods, Ascension principal and administrator of 24 years. “At Ascension, meeting the needs of a particular student may include extra tutoring through our Catapult and TCF tutors; working with parents to enable them to help their child at home; an extra portion of breakfast on some mornings; or attendance in our summer program, Super Language and Math. But most importantly, we provide a disciplined, values-based, safe and supportive environment alongside a rigorous academic curriculum.”
The hope that this school offers its students was–and remains–the greatest motivator for bringing community members together for this fundraiser each year.
“In North Minneapolis, there are not a lot of bastions of hope, but Ascension provides the beacon and the tools so that kids can be kids,” said Ed Cannon, a parishioner at HNOJ who has been involved with the St. Pat’s Day Gala for over 15 years. “At Ascension, kids get the opportunity to excel and use the many God-given talents they have to pursue their passions. They are given love and respect, challenge and reward–a foundation.”
Located in the northwestern suburbs of Minneapolis, Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Community is a vibrant, diverse parish devoted to living and sharing our faith. Our mission is to know the heart of Christ, see the face of Christ, and be the hands of Christ in all we do. Contact us at Holy Name of Jesus, 155 County Road 24, Wayzata, MN 55391. Phone: 763-473-7901. Fax: 763-745-3488.