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University of St. Thomas Irish Gala Celebrates Irish Religious Throughout Texas

More than 300 friends of the University of St. Thomas William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies attended the annual Irish Gala on Nov. 3 at The Houstonian Hotel. The theme for this year’s Gala was “Celebrating Irish Religious Throughout Texas.” This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Center for Irish Studies.

From L to R: Maureen Evans, Margo Geddie, Richard and Melynda Ludwick, Lisa Miranda, Dr. Lori GallagherThis year is the second time the Irish Gala has been chaired by Maureen Evans, Margo P. Geddie and Lisa Miranda, all of whom serve on the Center’s Advisory Board. Evans, Geddie and Miranda felt it important to recognize the contributions of Irish Religious in Texas through their vocations focusing on service, teaching, ministry and care. The impressive list of honorees was comprised of priests from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, The Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, The Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament and the Congregation of St. Basil. The Congregation of St. Basil founded the University of St. Thomas 70 years ago. Honorary chairs for the event included His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Brendan J. Cahill ’85, who is an alumnus of the University of St. Thomas and serves on the Center’s Advisory Board.

Table sponsorships, ticket sales and donations leading up to the Gala raised nearly $200,000 for the Irish Studies program. Before the program finished, a matching gift was announced and attendees were challenged to raise $25,000, generating a total of $50,000 in just 10 minutes for the Center for Irish Studies’ scholarship fund. With auction items ranging from an autographed Craig Biggio jersey, baseball cap and baseball to a customized trip to Ireland, the Center raised funds totaling $285,200. The evening ended with a festive sing-a-long with music from Dallas-based Beyond the Pale and Irish coffee service.

Festivities for the Gala began with an underwriter dinner on Thursday, November 2, in the home of Kari and Sean P. Tracey ’88. At the dinner, guests were able to mingle and visit with one another in advance of the Gala while enjoying traditional Irish music and food catered by A Fare Extraordinaire.

In addition to the honorees of Irish and Irish American descent and our honorary chairs, special guests for the 2017 Gala included Dr. Herbert P. Edmundson, Trini Mendenhall, Mrs. Raye G. White, Fr. George Smith, CSB, Bishop George Sheltz; Hon. Adrian Farrell, Consul General of Ireland; Hon. Karen Bell, British Consul General; Mr. Norman Houston, Counsellor/Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau; Hon. John B. Kane, Honorary Consul General of Ireland; Rev. Bill Shaw, Director of the 174 Trust in Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Dr. Richard Ludwick, UST President, and his wife, Melynda.

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

Under the direction of Lori Gallagher J.D., prior to this event, the Center has awarded study abroad scholarships to over 100 students and secured scholarship funding in excess of $650,000 since 2006. The Center also sponsors monthly cultural events open to the public. These lectures, concerts and storytelling events highlight all aspects of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Irish America.

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