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Mardi Gras Gala Raises $850,000 for Scholarships

Pictured L to R: Dennis and Ginny Malloy with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

A “Prince of the Church” and archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, was the honoree during the 64th Annual Mardi Gras Gala, helping to raise more than $850,000 for scholarships at the University of St. Thomas. More than 400 donors, alumni and friends celebrated Fat Tuesday on March 4 at the River Oaks Country Club.

The event chairs Virginia ‘Ginny’ ’79 and Dennis Malloy welcomed guests to the largest UST scholarship fundraiser of the year. The University awards about $13.7 million in scholarships and grants annually.

Cardinal DiNardo is a member of the UST Board of Directors, and Dr. Robert Ivany, UST President, said the University was blessed to honor someone who shares the same passion for Catholic education as the founding Basilian Fathers.

Pictured L to R: George and Annette Strake, Meredith Smith and C.J. Miller“Cardinal DiNardo strengthens our university through his magnificent support,” Ivany said. “He attends every board meeting, every committee meeting, celebrates Mass at the Chapel of St Basil, gives presentations, and, when I ask, offers me his frank and encouraging counsel… Thank you Your Eminence for your unwavering dedication to the University of St. Thomas and to all our Catholic schools in the Archdiocese.”

The emcee was Houston sports reporter Lisa Malosky. Live auctioneer Rusty Mertink enchanted supporters to pursue auction items, including a trip for 10 to the Newtown Park Estate in England with the Ivanys and a five-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Top bidders to live auction items were Pete Seale, Debra and Gary Marfin of the Fred and Mabel R. Parks Foundation, Ginny and Dennis Malloy and Donald Earthman.

Dressed in regal red robes and crowns, Mardi Gras King and Queen C.J. Miller and Meredith Smith, both seniors, continued the tradition of representing students as the night’s royalty.

Mardi Gras 2014 was a festive evening ushering in the Lenten season.  Guests dined on pepper crusted filet mignon while listening to the Murray Ward Dance Band.  Top table sponsors were treated to a premium wine selection with their own wait staff.

Pictured L to R: Jan and Oniel Mendenhall, Trini MendenhallGuests included Trini Mendenhall, Jan and Oniel Mendenhall ’04 – the trio who will serve as 2015 Mardi Gras co-chairs. The Most Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza, archbishop emeritus, gave the invocation.

Other guests included Bette and Jesse Tutor, Lucia and Michael Cordua, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, Miki Hebl and David Harvey, Maureen Evans and Lou Pelz, Cathy and Joe Cleary, Lois and Carl Davis, Joyce and Tom Standish, Annette and George Strake, Jeb Bashaw, Madelyn and George Farris, Margo Geddie and Bill LaFuze, and Tiziana and Fabio Triolo.

The Mardi Gras Gala supports the St. Thomas fund. In fall 2013, more than 95 percent of first year students received financial assistance. Dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, St. Thomas 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.