Golfers, sponsors step up to support tuition assistance
By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
With the weather playing its part and the Bishop Dunne Catholic School drum line kicking off the afternoon events, more than 200 golfers helped raise more than $585,000 during the 11th annual Bishop’s Invitational on Sept. 27.
This year, the charitable tournament drew 60 teams and 140 sponsors. Tournament chairs were Caroline and Wyatt Maxwell.
All proceeds from the charity golf event, started in 2011 and held since 2013 at the TPC-Four Seasons Resort and Club and Cottonwood Valley courses, provide tuition assistance for students to attend Catholic schools in the Diocese of Dallas.
“Together today, you are filling 300 empty seats through scholarships. Your passionate interest and support this year is approaching $600,000,” Don Hanratty, who along with his wife Jane served as the inaugural chairs for the invitational in 2011, told golfers on hand for the 2021 event. “Clearly this is more than just a golf event. A Catholic education is a priority for a growing number of families and deserving children.
“You are answering that call to help them,” Hanratty added.
Matthew Vereecke, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Dallas, expressed his gratitude to the numerous supporters and sponsors, including CHRISTUS Health, which has been the Bishop Invitational’s title sponsor for the past eight years.
“They have made sure ultimately that close to 400 students have entered into our school system,” said Vereecke, adding that CHRISTUS Health’s support goes beyond financial sponsorship. “This last year, in particular, during the pandemic, they got our teachers vaccinated, they got our staff members vaccinated and they made sure that we were at the front of the line as soon as they were able to get people in to be vaccinated.”
A complete list of 2021 Bishop’s Invitational sponsors can be found at www.bishopsgolf.org/sponsors.
Vereecke noted that enrollment in Catholic schools within the diocese is up about 5 percent over last year.
“We are very, very fortunate. We have a number of people who are supporting our schools in some really incredible ways, including through this golf tournament,” he said. “Everyone who comes together really serves to make sure our students continue to grow.”
That support is helping the Diocese of Dallas schools buck a national trend.
“We’ve seen a lot of Catholic schools close in the last few years,” said Vereecke, noting that 200 have closed nationally since March 2020. “In Dallas, we’re growing. We’ve got a great bishop, great supporters and great partners.”
Bishop Edward J. Burns said many in the Diocese of Dallas community have a “deep desire” to educate their children in a Catholic school but do not have the financial means to do so. He was on hand Sept. 27 to thank those golfers, supporters and sponsors who helped provide immediate tuition assistance “that can truly change the course of a child’s life.”
“Your support makes a world of difference in the lives of our kids and in the lives of our schools, which are just doing a phenomenal job, especially during a very difficult year,” Bishop Burns said. “When I think about being the bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, it’s amazing the people here who make things happen – the Catholic Schools Office, the diocesan development office, the University of Dallas, Catholic Charities, the various parishes and all the people who are so committed and so dedicated. The Diocese of Dallas is truly blessed.”
As for Hanratty, who has watched the tournament grow from its inception in 2011 to now surpass $6.4 million raised for tuition assistance, the call to serve remains strong.
“You know our mission will continue,” he said. “The needs are real.”