Jul 5, 2014

Inaugural dinner held for CHS Endowment Fund



(Photo by Fred LeBlanc)

Staff report

SPRINGFIELD – With the first imporant step towards bringing Cathedral High School back to Springfield now approaching, benefactors gathered on June 26 for the inaugural dinner for the Cathedral High School Endowment Fund.

Diocesan officials have announced that five demolition companies submitted bids for the bid date of June 30.  Diocesan spokesperson Mark E. Dupont stated that officials were generally pleased with the bids, most which came in at or below the estimates that had been set at $3.9 million.  

"We are now in the process of reviewing the bids and hope to select a company within two weeks." Dupont told IObserve.  "As we have from the onset we will be thorough in our review as these bids were contained in complcated 80 page documents."

Dupont did state that a major effort is currently underway to remove items from the damaged Surrey Road facility that have potential re-use.

"Beyond what Cathedral and St. Michael's Academy needs, we are also inviting other Catholic schools to walk through and see if there are items of interest." he said.

Dupont stressed that exterior demolition may be some time off as the initial work will take place inside the building,  including the removal of many miles of asbestos covered pipes that run throughout the building.

Meanwhile the endowment campaign begun in February picked up its pace significantly with the June 26 dinner. Signalling his support for the effort started by Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell, his recently named successor, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski made the trip up from Maryland to attend the dinner at the Big Y corporate offices in Springfield. 

"Bishop Rozanski shares Bishop McDonnell's conviction that there needs to be endowment funds created to support future accessibility of Catholic education to all who seek it," Dupont stated. 

As part of the dinner, the three recently named co-chairs of the campaign were introduced. They are Gene Cassidy of Longmeadow, CEO of the Eastern States Exposition; Michele Gaudette D'Amour of Somers, Conn., educational partnership administrator at Big Y Foods; and Joseph Pantuosco of Hampden, financial advisor for Ameriprise LLC.

The mission of the endowment is to provide tuition assistance to students wanting access to a high quality, faith-based education at Cathedral High School.   

As of June 30 the campaign had exceeded $1.1 million, including the lead gift by Michelle and Donald D'Amour of $500,000.  Should certain donor targets be met, that could be tripled to as much as $1.5 million.

In addition Dupont sid that since February Cathedral leadership has been in touch with a number of alumni and benefactors, and they are very hopeful these conversations will result in many more significant gifts. 

When Bishop McDonnell first announce the need for the endowment fund he asked that those alumni who attended the school prior to the mid- 1970's and paid little if any tuition, would now consider making a donation equivalent to a current year's tuition, $9300.  

A press release sent out by the school states: “This call to action to the community, and specifically to CHS alumni, will provide an opportunity for all students to receive an excellent educational experience. As the Cathedral mission states, we are continuing to create leaders who will ‘embrace responsible citizenship in the global community.’

“The Endowment for Tuition Assistance Campaign has had a successful launch with an initial $1 million in funding and has made substantial progress toward its goal of $10 million in pledges.”

At the June 26 dinner, Cathedral senior and baseball stand-out Peter Crinella of East Longmeadow spoke to those gathered about what it means to be part of the Panther family. 

"When my parents made the choice to send me to Cathedral after the tornado they knew there was a strong possibility that I would never see the rebuilt Surrey Road campus. That did not stop them from believing in Cathedral," Crinella said.

"Bricks and mortar never defined the school – education, values, and moral beliefs do.  I would not trade my last three years at Cathedral for anything.  It has made me such a better person and prepared me so well for college."

Crinella has already been accepted at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester where he will major in economics.

More about the Cathedral High School Endowment for Tuition Assistance can be found at www.cathedralhigh.org; or by calling the development department at 413-782-5285, Ext 4104.