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Catholics and Methodists Support Peace at Irish Gala

People of Catholic, Methodist and other faiths collaborated to promote peace and reconciliation, the mission of the University of St. Thomas William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies, during its annual Irish Gala on Nov. 22 at The Houstonian Hotel. Celebrating the Center’s 10th anniversary, the gala honored Rev. and Mrs. Harold Good, members of the international community from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who have been instrumental in building and maintaining peace around the world. Rev. Good is a former president of the Methodist Church in Ireland.

Approximately 375 people attended the event, which raised scholarships and student support for University of St. Thomas students to study abroad in Ireland, Northern Ireland and at UST. Proceeds also contribute to the Center’s interdisciplinary academic program. The Gala raised over $242,000 in total gross proceeds for the academic program, plus more than $55,000 specifically for scholarships and student support.

Gala Chairs were Janet and Randy Gilmore and Laura and Rev. Charles Millikan. Honorary Chairs were Daniel N. Cardinal DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Houston Methodist Hospital served as the lead underwriter for the event.

During the reception and dinner, guests were treated to traditional Irish music by local band The Flying Fish Sailors. Special features during the program included the songs “Peace in Our Hearts” and “Ireland, The Land I Love So Well” performed by Celtic balladeers Danny O’Flaherty and Noel Nash.  After the program guests participated in a sing-a-long of Irish tunes with Danny and Noel over hot cider and Irish coffee.

The Gala also featured “big board” auction items, including two trips to Ireland and a special night at the Houston Ballet with dinner and performance and a once-in-a lifetime private viewing of a studio rehearsal of Swan Lake.  Other features included an original certified antique map of Ireland dating to 1688. The “Luck of the Irish Wheel” was back by popular demand with surprise bags valued at $100 or more each, and a silent auction highlighted Irish and other gift items.

Special guests included His Eminence Daniel N. Cardinal DiNardo; Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; Bishop and Mrs. Woodrow Hearn; the Most Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza; the Most Rev. Vincent Rizzotto; Rev. B.T. Williamson and wife, Dr. Robin Williamson, UST professor of communications; Hon. Aidan Cronin, Consul General of Ireland from Cork, Ireland, and Chicago; Rev. Bill Shaw, Director of the 174 Trust in Belfast, Northern Ireland; William J. Flynn, namesake of the UST Center for Irish Studies from New York; and Dr. Robert Ivany, UST President, and Marianne Ivany, UST First Lady. The guests included many clergy, including the Rev. Troy Gately; UST faculty members and priests, including Rev. Donald Nesti, CSSp; Rev. Joseph Pilsner, CSB; and Rev. George Hosko, CSB, as well as many Methodist clergy, including Rev. Martin Nicholas of the Sugar Land First United Methodist Church, an underwriter for the event. There were also representatives from Houston Methodist Hospital, the Flynn Center’s Advisory Board and other business and community leaders.

UST’s Center for Irish Studies is rated among the top 10 Irish Studies programs in the country.

The University established the Center for Irish Studies in 2003, and named the Center for Irish Studies after William J. Flynn in 2010. Bill Flynn has been instrumental in the success of the Center and its mission to promote peace and reconciliation around the world.

Under the direction of Lori Gallagher J.D., prior to this event the Center has awarded study abroad scholarships to 80 students and secured study abroad funding in excess of $432,000. The Center also sponsors monthly cultural events open to the public related to all aspects of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Irish America.

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