Scholarship Ball Honorees Have Inspired Area Youth
From motivational speakers to youth ministers to educators, the recipients of this year's Cross of the Order of St. Benedict have been inspiring young people across the country for many years.
(Media-Newswire.com) - From motivational speakers to youth ministers to educators, the recipients of this year’s Cross of the Order of St. Benedict have been inspiring young people across the country for many years. The prestigious award will go to Dr. Dan and Terri Carey and Deacon Dana and Deborah Nearmyer at the annual Benedictine College Scholarship Ball on February 23, 2013, at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Lou and Beth Holtz and Immaculee Illabagiza will be recognized, although they have already received their awards and will not be in attendance. Benedictine College established the Cross in 1969 as a way to recognize alumni and friends who have supported charitable institutions, provided civic or religious leadership, and demonstrated professional excellence.
According to The Independent, the Benedictine College Scholarship Ball has ranked as one of the top 10 charity fundraisers in the Kansas City metropolitan area and received an honorable mention in this year’s list. Last year, the Ball raised more than $500,000 for scholarships. This year’s event will take place in the ballroom of the freshly renovated Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. Event co-chairs are Lene Westerman and Stephen and Joan ( Koechner ) Charbonneau. The Scholarship Ball includes Mass, dinner, awards, a variety show, and dancing to live music by the Michael Beers Band. Tickets are $175 per person. For reservations or more information, call 913.360.7401, or go to www.benedictine.edu/scholarship-ball.
Dr. Dan & Terri Carey
Dan and Terri Carey have been dedicated to Catholic education for many years. A 1968 graduate of St. Benedict’s College, Dan returned to his alma mater in 1995 to serve as president. Terri, with a Master’s degree in Reading, was the beloved librarian at Atchison Catholic Elementary School. The two were instrumental in the turnaround that saw Benedictine College grow from a struggling institution with less than 700 students to the nationally recognized Catholic college with more than 1,700 students it is today.
In addition to steady enrollment growth during Dan’s tenure as president, Benedictine College also saw the completion of the Student Union, the renovation of the long-abandoned Freshman Hall into the state-of-the-art residence facility now known as Elizabeth Hall, the construction of the Larry Wilcox Stadium, the renovation of the Haverty Center and return of the original Raven Roost, the completion of St. Scholastica Plaza, and additions to the Amino Center. It was also during this time that the college began the Discovery Program and created the Executive Master’s in Business Administration curriculum. Financially, Dan was able to grow the college’s endowment and saw the first profit for many years.
Each year, Terri also had a special contribution to the Scholarship Ball with her popular “Doll of the Ball.” She was highly regarded as Benedictine’s “First Lady” and was known for her engaging personality, creativity and the warm Benedictine hospitality she extended to every guest at college events, many held in the president’s home. She was instrumental in the renovation of Snowden House into the home of the president, moving the official residence back to campus.
Dan currently serves as President of Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. He has also been the Board Chair for the National Association of Independent Colleges and previously served on the national board for the Council of Independent Colleges. The couple has two sons, Chris, ’02 and Matt, ’05.
Lou & Beth Holtz
Beth and Lou Holtz believe in the importance of Catholic higher education and its ability to equip students with the moral courage and technical skills to make a difference in the world today. The Holtzs have had a long relationship with Benedictine College, having been among the first donors to the construction of Mary’s Grotto in the center of campus. Lou has been both a commencement speaker and an opening convocation speaker at Benedictine College and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the college in 2007, when he delivered the Commencement Address. He and Beth received the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict during the Opening Convocation ceremony in August 2012.
Lou is probably best known for coaching the University of Notre Dame to a perfect season and a national championship in 1988 as well as a number of dramatic Notre Dame finishes. Holtz also served as head football coach for the College of William & Mary, North Carolina State University, University of Arkansas, University of Minnesota, University of South Carolina, and the New York Jets of the National Football League.
Holtz has been a television analyst for CBS Sports and the ESPN cable network and is the author of five books. His latest, the autobiography Wins, Losses, and Lessons, was released in 2006. In addition to his life story, the book details his “Do Right Rule” along with his other thoughts on making young people strong, moral citizens. Holtz’ philosophy concentrates on a vision to give direction and a plan to achieve goals. For him, it comes down to three simple rules: Do It Right, Do Your Best, and Care About Others. His philosophy not only translates into winning coaching strategies, but also effective business management and successful parenting.
While he has been in the public eye through much of his life, there is a great deal more to Lou Holtz. He is a devout Catholic and family man. He and his wife, Beth, have been married for 50 years and have four children and many grandchildren. Lou serves on the boards of several Catholic charities and has been a guest on Catholic radio shows like “Blessed2Play.”
He and Beth founded the Holtz Charitable Foundation in 1998. The program is committed to promoting Christianity, education and charity and has provided important funding to several causes, including scholarships, homeless centers and Christian ministries.
Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that saw nearly one million people die in just 100 days, captivated a standing-room-only crowd of more than 1,500 during her moving presentation on September 11, 2012, in the Abbey Church. She was honored with the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict at the conclusion of her presentation.
Ilibagiza was a young college student who had returned home for Easter Break to be with her devout Catholic family when the death of Rwanda’s Hutu president sparked the genocide that would claim nearly her entire Tutsi family. She saw men attacking a neighbor with machetes and knew something very bad was happening. She was able to take refuge with a local pastor who hid her, along with seven other women, in a 3-foot by 4-foot bathroom. There they waited for 100 days, hidden and isolated, not knowing the carnage that raged outside. When she finally came out, her mother, father, brother, and almost everyone she knew was dead.
In the years since the genocide, Ilibagiza has come to grips with what happened, and what she can do about it. In 2006, she wrote a book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide, and began telling her story in venues around the world. Her book has received a Christopher Award "affirming the highest values of human spirit," and has been chosen as Outreach Magazine's selection for "Best Outreach Testimony/Biography Resource of 2007." Left to Tell has been adopted into the curriculum of dozens of high schools and universities.
Ilibagiza has received honorary degrees from The University of Notre Dame, Saint John's University, and Walsh University. She has been recognized and honored with numerous humanitarian awards including: The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace 2007; a finalist as one of Beliefnet.com's "Most Inspiring People of the Year 2006," and a recipient of the American Legacy's Women of Strength & Courage Award.
Today, Ilibagiza is regarded as one of world's leading speakers on peace, faith, and forgiveness. She has shared her universal message with world dignitaries, school children, multinational corporations, churches and many others. She works hard to spread her message and to raise money for her Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which directly benefits the children orphaned by the genocide.
Deacon Dana and Deborah Nearmyer
Deborah and Dana Nearmyer have been extremely influential in the faith formation of the youth of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Active in youth ministry even while still in high school, the two went on to hold leadership positions in their parish, area schools and within the Archdiocese. Currently, Deborah is the Director of Catholic Faith Formation at St. James Academy in Lenexa, one of four original staff members who founded the school. Dana is a deacon and the Lead Consultant for Evangelization and Catholic Formation of Youth in the Archdiocese.
Deacon Dana was teaching English and coaching varsity soccer and Deborah was working as an adoption counselor when they were asked by Father Tom Tank to develop youth ministry and engaging liturgy for young people at Church of the Nativity in Leawood, Kansas. Under the direction of pastors Father Tom Tank and Father Al Rockers, Nativity’s youth ministry deeply impacted more than 7,000 teens and families. International Life Teen recognized the Church of the Nativity as having one of most influential youth ministries in the United States.
Deacon Dana and Deborah founded Camp Tekakwitha and the Prairie Star Ranch under the Direction of Archbishop James Keleher and Msgr. Thomas Tank. Camp Tekakwitha celebrated its 15th anniversary this past summer. More the 22,000 campers and 400 staff members have grown deeper in love with Jesus Christ at camp by praying deeply, singing passionately and reflecting on scripture, all while building lasting friendships.
Deborah joined the staff of St. James Academy in 2004, a year before the school opened, and developed the formation program from scratch. She oversaw the commissioning of many of St. James’s sacred art pieces and developed the “House or Community” system that helps make St. James Academy a truly Catholic experience.
In 2000 Deacon Dana was hired by the Archdiocese to work full-time on the opening of the Prairie Star Ranch and to invigorate youth ministries in the parishes of North East Kansas. While maintaining his job at the Chancery, Dana was also the first boys and girls head soccer coach at St. James.
During the 2009 National Catholic Youth Conference, Deacon Dana and his team were able to facilitate one the largest solemn youth Adoration and Benediction services in U.S. history. A Eucharist procession involving 15 bishops, 300 priests, and 23,000 young people flowed through several blocks of downtown Kansas City. Those events appeared on the front pages of many national newspapers and sparked a new wave of Eucharist devotion across the United States. At the same time, the Prairie Star Ranch conducted a successful capital campaign, raising $2.3 million to build staff housing, infrastructure, an activities building, the beautiful St. Kateri Tekakwitha Chapel and creating a scholarship endowment.
Deborah and Deacon Dana are the parents of eight children, three of whom are in Heaven. Their oldest, Madison, is currently a freshman at Benedictine College. Deacon Dana is also an adjunct professor in the school’s Theology Department and teaches courses relating to youth ministry and catechetics.
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