Braxton has birthday bash, but students get the gifts

News-DemocratJuly 1, 2014 

Bishop Edward K. Braxton in a BND file photo from May, 2013.

DERIK HOLTMANN — dholtmann@bnd.com

More than $90,000 was raised recently to benefit Catholic education in the Diocese of Belleville.

A $100-per-plate dinner was held June 27, the day before the 70th birthday of The Most Rev. Edward K. Braxton, bishop of the Belleville Diocese, at the St. Clair Country Club in Belleville.

"He has requested that, in lieu of receiving personal gifts, donations be made to a diocesan-wide effort to strengthen Catholic education," according to a statement from the Committee to Benefit Catholic Education.

The dinner was a sell-out with 325 people.

It was one of the largest dinners ever served at the St. Clair Country Club, according to Monsignor John Myler, spokesman for the diocese and the rector at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville.

Since coming to Belleville, Braxton has prioritized Catholic education, according to the committee: He initiated annual visits to every school within the diocese, meets regularly with the teachers and staff to review curriculum and established new activities and special Masses at the Cathedral of St. Peter for incoming freshmen and graduating seniors for all three of the Catholic high schools.

Braxton spoke at the dinner and recalled attending Catholic school while growing up in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He and his siblings were taught by Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "I have profound admiration for and feel deep gratitude to these great sisters who imbued in me a love for learning, a desire for knowledge, a curiosity about the church and the world, an appreciation for beauty, and a disciplined approach to reading and study," he said.

The donations from the dinner will help benefit:

* Scholarships at Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville, Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo and Mater Dei Catholic in Breese.

* A tuition assistance fund for parochial grade schools throughout the diocese and Sister Thea Bowman School in East St. Louis.

* The Cardinal Newman Catholic Center for students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

More donations are expected to be added to the funds for Catholic education, Myler said.

If you would like to donate to the scholarship fund can be made to any of the three high schools or to the Chancery Office, 222 S. Third St., Belleville, IL 62220.

Contact reporter Maria Hasenstab at mhasenstab@bnd.com or 618-239-2460.

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