The 44th annual Inner-City Scholarship Fund Friends Gala raised nearly $800,000 in a virtual venue last week.
The theme of the May 12 livestreamed event, “Black Tie and Slippers,” was apropos for attendees confined to home amid the global coronavirus pandemic. The change in venue proved to be a successful contingency plan for the gala, which is traditionally held at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan.
“We pray in gratitude for the gift of our Inner-City Catholic schools,” said Cardinal Dolan as he led a prayer online at the close of the gala.
The non-profit Inner-City provides tuition assistance for low-income students attending Catholic schools within the archdiocese.
“We ask you, dear Lord, to bless the kids that we love and cherish,” the cardinal said. “Please, continue to guide and protect their parents and families. Lay your hand especially upon our teachers and principals, our volunteers. And especially this evening, dear Lord, I ask your blessing upon the people that make this possible—our dear benefactors who never, ever let us down.”
Mo Rocca, television host and a trustee of Inner-City, served as master of ceremonies.
Rocca interviewed Fareed Ishaq, a fourth-grader from St. Raymond School, the Bronx, about what home-based, distance learning is like during this unusual time. Fareed saed that he misses his school and seeing his friends, and also praised his principal and teachers for how much they care about him and his peers, and how helpful they have been to them.
“Learning at home is pretty cool, too,” he said. “I really like my school. I think it’s the best in the world. My favorite subject is science, because science is the whole world around us.”
The Chorale Ensemble of Maria Regina High School in Hartsdale sang songs they recorded during one of their weekly Zoom rehearsals.
Cardinal Dolan said he is “deeply grateful” to supporters for their “consistent, loyal generosity to what’s got to be one of the most noble causes around—our inner-city schools.”
“And I think we need you more than ever,” the cardinal said. “The very fact that you’re tuned in tonight,” he said, and continuing “the magnificent legacy of our annual gala and the very fact that you’re willing to sacrifice—alleluia.”
The cardinal was asked about the home-based, distance learning happening during the coronavirus crisis.
“There’s no way that our schools are closed,” the cardinal said of the education that continues despite the buildings not being open. “They’re up and running, and they’re doing the fine, sterling job that all of us appreciate and have come to expect.”
The final lines of the cardinal’s prayer pertained to all those entrusted to care for the students: “This is the season, dear Lord, that we remember your return to heaven after you rose from the dead at Easter. And we remember your last words to us: ‘Go, teach all the nations.’
“And we’re continuing to do that, dear Lord. We couldn’t do it without your grace. We couldn’t do it without the generosity of the people tonight.”