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Archbishop’s Gala Breaks Attendance Record

Was it the great new venue? The fantastic raffle prizes? Or was it simply the loyalty and love that our benefactors feel for Sacred Heart and its mission.


All of these reasons, and especially the graciousness of God, no doubt contributed to a record-breaking attendance at Archbishop’s Gala 2013, held Thursday, June 6. To the 785 guests who attended the annual fundraiser at the Riverview Ballroom at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, Archbishop Allen Vigneron and Sacred Heart rector Msgr. Todd Lajiness say, “Thank you for your support!”


Including all revenue sources, Archbishop’s Gala 2013 raised over $729,000, which is the highest total in the past eight years. “Thank you, again!”


Attendance has been on the rise the past few years, leading to the gala outgrowing the seating capacity of its previous venues (a great problem to have!). The gala was switched to Cobo Center this year because of the center's central location and ability to hold over a thousand attendees in any of its three ballrooms.


A stunning view of the Detroit waterfront and the Windsor skyline greeted gala guests as they entered the Riverview Ballroom and gazed through its panoramic wall of windows. At the cocktail reception, guests enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres and an open bar while the elegant selections of a pianist contributed to the ambiance. This year for the first time, the reception was extended an extra half hour so guests could better enjoy the simple pleasure of relaxing and socializing with friends. Many took the opportunity to have their photographs taken with Archbishop Vigneron as a memento of the evening.


The effervescent Fr. Timothy Birney, vocations director for the archdiocese, was again the emcee for the evening. The gala opened with a humorous mock video, “I Almost Missed the Gala!” which featured a frantic Father Birney racing on bicycle, child’s scooter, motorcycle and even on horseback to make it to the gala on time. It was a hoot.


Drawing the winning tickets of the raffles is always a highlight of the evening. The lucky winner of the car raffle this year is Mr. James Godfroy of Westland, Michigan. He had the option of choosing a 2014 Grand Jeep Cherokee, compliments of Dan Hall of Pinckney Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram, or $30,000 in cash, and he chose the cash. (Mr. Godfroy as a gesture of gratitude donated $5,000 of the winnings back to the seminary.)


As for the 52-Card Raffle, Sharon Brockman of Rochester Hills won the diamond necklace; Pam Beech of Eastpointe the four dinner gift cards; Teri Moore of Birmingham the custom-made suit; and Dan Duncan of Armada, the two cases of high-end wine and wine cooler.


After a dinner of braised short ribs and Chicken Caprese, the evening closed with a moving tribute to Msgr. Peter Lentine, the oldest active pastor in the archdiocese at age ninety-four. Monsignor is a Sacred Heart Seminary alumnus, Class of 1945. He has served as a priest for sixty-three years and pastor of St. Philomena Parish in Detroit for forty-seven years. Gala guests were invited to contribute to the endowment fund, established in Monsignor’s name by St. Philomena, which helps with tuition costs for Sacred Heart seminarians. The crowd responded generously by pledging close to $20,000 to this worthy cause.


Could you continue to support the seminary’s mission of forming holy priests, deacons and lay ministers to be leaders in the “new evangelization” of the Church and the world? Mark your calendar to attend next year’s gala, Thursday, June 19, 2014. See you there!