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A Night to Remember in Melbourne

1 June 2017

United States

A Night to Remember in Melbourne

On the evening of March 4th 2017, the Parish Social Hall at Ascension in Melbourne was creatively transformed, in keeping with the theme: The Great Gatsby Gala. The 400 guests who attended dressed according to the theme and all, in particular the ladies, enjoyed doing so.  The muted lighting and elegant decorations contributed to the ambiance which transported us back to another era.  The four course delicious meal, all prepared by school volunteers, was a dining experience to be remembered.

 Srs Joseph Barden and Immaculata Knox display their dinner invitation!

This annual event began 23 years ago to create an Endowment Fund to ensure that Ascension Catholic School would be placed on a firm financial footing and maintain the Mercy charism even after the Mercy Sisters had retired.  It is our dream, that having established this Catholic school and continued the excellence for which it is known, it will become part of our Mercy legacy.  Each year the parish and school communities give tremendous support to this effort.  Sister Joseph Barden, who spent 31 years as principal of the school, spearheaded this endeavour for 20 years.  Each year she selects a committee that spends an entire year planning and executing the many tasks involved.

In addition to the meal, the guests are involved in the fundraising process with live and silent auctions.  This year the silent auction had 170 baskets – all donated by parishioners, school parents & grandparents, and a special section for classroom projects.  The highlight of the evening was the Live Auction with the County Sheriff as Auctioneer. He had a wonderful way   of getting people to part with money.  For example, he sold one dinner to be held at the Convent for $4,500 and immediately asked if we would agree to cook a second one.  How could we refuse? 

Sr. Immaculata had two of her paintings in the Live Auction.  Together they brought in $3,000 for which she was very happy.  The total profit for the event was $100,000, the largest amount yet.  Each year this event becomes more popular and guests of all ages come to enjoy the evening.  After the live auction, the DJ plays appropriate music for dancing.  This year the teachers and staff all performed a line dance, which they had rehearsed beforehand.  They displayed the school spirit in style, and their enthusiasm was felt by all.

The success of this event is enhanced by the contributions made by Sponsors, Business Organizations and a huge support from Alumni. The dinners mentioned above are a well-known item at the auction and people vie with each other to be the winners. We serve eight people at each dinner and Our Mercy Associate, Elizabeth Bump, plays the piano during the meal, as our convent takes on the atmosphere of an A Restaurant.  We end the evening with a sing-song and each person receives a memento painted by Sr. Immaculata. 

Submitted by Sisters Joseph Barden and Immaculata Knox, Melbourne, Florida

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