Friday, March 22, 2019
Anne DiBernardo - Florida Catholic
FORT LAUDERDALE | Thanks to the annual fundraising efforts of the Miami Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, eighth grade girls attending a Catholic school in South Florida have an opportunity to receive financial assistance to continue their education at a Catholic high school.
The MACCW welcomed over 130 guests Feb. 23 to their 20th annual Scholarship Luncheon, one of the many charitable efforts promoted by the women. The luncheon raises funds for the MACCW Lucy Petrillo Scholarship Fund, named in memory of longtime chairman and founding member of the scholarship committee, Lucy Petrillo, in 2015. Additional scholarship funds come from memorials, underwriting, school table sponsors, auction item donors, and the Marilyn Gaylord (Charitable) Trust.
To date, more than $266,000 has been awarded to 61 girls. In 2018, three girls each received $6,000 but the number of recipients and amount are subject to change from year to year depending on the amount of funds raised.
Each year, the MACCW scholarship committee sends applications to the principals of Catholic elementary schools in the archdiocese. All eighth-grade girls may apply for the scholarship by writing an essay expressing their future goals and why it is important for them to continue their education at a Catholic high school. The completed application must include a recommendation from the principal and be signed by the girl’s pastor before being submitted to the MACCW Scholarship Committee. The deadline this year was March 11. The Scholarship Committee judges the applications and the scholarship recipients receive their awards at the MACCW’s annual convention, this year scheduled for May 17-19.
Wildine Aumoithe, one of the three recipients of the 2018 scholarship, attended this year’s luncheon with her family, and thanked everyone for helping her to further her Catholic education. The ninth grader is currently undecided about her career, but she would like to become either a geneticist or a pharmacist.
The luncheon is also a time to honor someone who has made a difference in Catholic education. This year, the MACCW recognized Joan Crown, retired director of the Respect Life Office, for her efforts promoting the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death in the Archdiocese of Miami.
“Thank you so much for this surprise. I thought I was done giving formal presentations like this, but the Lord had other plans. That is the story of my life,” Crown said jokingly.
She took the opportunity to ask for prayers for her successor, Juan Guerra, who also attended the luncheon, and shared some stories of how the work of the Respect Life Office is transforming lives and saving babies. One such testimony involved an abortionist who came to the center with a heavy heart, seeking healing and ready to turn his life around. Another involved a father and mother who felt they had no choice but to abort their child because they couldn’t afford eyeglasses for their young son.
Crown retired as Respect Life director last October, officially ending her 37-year career with the ministry. Although she now keeps a low profile and spends as much time as possible with her grandchildren, she continues to work behind the scenes as a volunteer.
Under her directorship, which began in 2006, she set up five pregnancy help centers throughout the archdiocese and, in 2007 and 2009, chaired the state pro-life coordinating committee. She supervised the pro-life education efforts in the archdiocese, and each year led a group of 120 high school students to the March for Life in Washington D.C.
She also organized and led the annual Catholic Days at the Capitol in Tallahassee, coordinated the Project Rachel post-abortion healing program, and oversaw the Project Joseph program for fathers. In association with the MACCW, she also worked to coordinate Chastity Days, an annual event that teaches eighth-grade students about the sanctity of human life and the virtue of saving sex for marriage.
“Crown’s dedication to Respect Life made an impact on many people and her tireless efforts have saved many babies,” said Mary Weber, president of the MACCW’s Scholarship Fund committee. She noted that Crown, a member of St. Bernadette Parish, is also a member of the St. Bernadette Council of Catholic Women.
Weber also read a letter of congratulations from Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, who was unable to attend the luncheon.
Past honorees at the MACCW luncheon include Richard Jean in 2018, principal at Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School in Southwest Ranches; Doug Romanik in 2017, former principal at Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School, which merged with Msgr. Edward Pace High School in 2018; and Ana Garcia in 2016, principal at Pace High.