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Honoring Sisters, Mardi Gras Gala Raises $800K

By Bridget Hardy, University of St. Thomas
February 28th, 2013
University of St. Thomas (stthom.edu)

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said it best during his opening prayer at the 63rd Annual Mardi Gras Gala when he commented on "hearts rejoicing" at the University of St. Thomas. More than 400 donors, alumni and friends of St. Thomas celebrated Fat Tuesday with "A Mardi Gras Tradition" on Feb. 12 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel Houston.

HOUSTON, TX (Univeristy of St Thomas) - Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said it best during his opening prayer at the 63rd Annual Mardi Gras Gala when he commented on "hearts rejoicing" at the University of St. Thomas. More than 400 donors, alumni and friends of St. Thomas celebrated Fat Tuesday with "A Mardi Gras Tradition" on Feb. 12 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel Houston.

In a room decorated with purple, green and gold, chairs Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia welcomed guests and celebrated the giving spirit of the largest UST scholarship fundraiser of the year. More than $800,000 was raised to support University scholarships. The University awards more than $11.6 million in scholarships and grants annually.

University President Dr. Robert Ivany reflected on his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He disclosed thoughts about his journey and the role UST plays in the world.

"The only way we can address the challenges in our country and in the Holy land is to do what we are doing at St. Thomas: educating leaders of faith and character," he said. "The more scholarship funds we can raise, the more students can enter in and graduate from St. Thomas."

The Gala honored the Franciscan Sisters, and attendees saw a compelling video of the Sisters' impact on the campus community.


Emcee Sonia Azad, an Emmy-award winning field reporter with KTRK ABC13, introduced the live auctioneer who rallied the group to open up their hearts and pocket books. A trip to England with the Ivany's was the most bid on prize garnering $47,500. Ten guests will visit Newtown Park Estate in Lymington, England, for a unique experience during a one-week stay at the historic Newtown Park Estate.

Also Mardi Gras King and Queen Barrett Lauer and Chloe Jester impressed guests in their long red robes and bedazzled crowns. 

Guests included Marianne Ivany, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, Carolyn Farb, Kelli Kickerillo and Todd Forester, Mary and Vince Kickerillo, Raye White, Trini Mendenhall Sosa and Frank Sosa, Jan and Oniel Mendenhall, Reinette and Stan Marek, Alice and Keith Mosing, Ginger and John Niemann, Cynthia and Anthony Petrello, and Betty and Jesse Tutor.

In support of the event chair Dr. Devinder Bhatia, a cardiovascular surgeon, several medical center staff members were in attendance including Houston Northwest Medical Center, and Victory Medical Center, Westside Surgical Hospital, Humble Surgical Hospital.

UST gave 92 percent of incoming freshman scholarship funds for the 2012-2013 school year. St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houston's only Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers.   

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