By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Cold and windy conditions could not deter the spirit of giving as a sold-out field of over 200 golfers helped raise nearly $750,000 in the 13th annual Bishop’s Invitational golf tournament on Oct. 30.
All proceeds from the event, held for the first time at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco, provide tuition assistance for students to attend Catholic schools in the Diocese of Dallas.
“This day was made possible through the help and support of over 110 sponsors, 57 golf teams, dozens of school students and volunteers, a very active committee, and the entire community for supporting the Saints and Scholars entrusted to our care,” said Kelly Halaszyn, diocesan director of development. “I extend our sincere appreciation to CHRISTUS Health who celebrated their 10th anniversary as our title sponsor and whose generosity and steadfast partnership have provided over $1 million in financial support and student scholarships.”
Since the inaugural golf tournament in 2011, the Bishop’s Invitational has raised more than $7 million to provide need-based tuition assistance for kindergarten through eighth-grade students attending Catholic schools.
While in past years tournament organizers set a goal of $700,000, they increased it to $725,000 for 2023. Halaszyn said the tournament exceeded that goal before tee time thanks largely to the leadership of the event’s chairs.
“I extend a heartfelt thanks to this year’s chairs, Kara and Peter Gehan, under whose leadership this record-breaking year would not have been possible,” he said.
Peter Gehan said it marked the first time the fundraising goal had been exceeded prior to the tournament.
“We’re very pleased to have exceeded our goal,” Gehan said. “Last year, we had over 900 kids receive scholarships to the tune of about $2.3 million in distributed scholarships — so this is a crucial element of that for the diocese.
“We really get a lot of kids who otherwise would not be going to diocesan schools the opportunity to do so through the funds we raise through the golf tournament,” he added.
Gehan said the new location in Frisco was well-received by golfers and allowed organizers to add to the whole experience.
“It’s a larger venue, so we are able to have more teams,” Gehan explained. “It also gave us more room for all the associated activities with the tournament.”
During a morning ceremony where selected students were recognized for receiving tuition-assistance scholarships from tournament title sponsor CHRISTUS Health,
Bishop Edward J. Burns thanked the organizers and supporters alike for their gifts to students at Catholic schools.
“We are grateful for all of you. We are grateful for all our Catholic schools. We are grateful in a very special way for each individual student who is in our schools and entrusted to our care,” Bishop Burns said. “And as Catholic schools for the Diocese of Dallas, we pledge that we will do the ultimate, the best, in serving our children, guiding them, to form them into saints and scholars.”
Addressing golfers and Catholic school supporters at the evening’s awards dinner, Dr. Rebecca Hammel, superintendent of Diocese of Dallas Catholic schools, said that in her 33-year career she has witnessed schools struggle to find that perfect balance between charging a tuition that families can afford and providing all the programs and faculty that students need.
“Though we attempt to keep tuition affordable, there is still the very real cost of educating a child that we must somehow afford,” she said. “This is why the Bishop’s Invitational is so very important.”
In September, Hammel said she attended a scholarship event at St. Cecilia Catholic School, where she heard a compelling story from a parent of a recipient of financial aid.
“He told us how attending a Catholic school not only changed his children, but it also changed his family,” she said. “That’s the impact of a Catholic education – drawing the family closer together and closer to God. That’s quite a gift and one we do not take for granted.”
It is a gift that could not be realized without assistance from those who participated in and supported this year’s Bishop’s Invitational.
“I thank you all — for your generosity, your support, and your prayers,” Hammel said. “You do make a difference.”
THE SPIRIT OF GIVING
While the 2023 Bishop’s Invitational fundraising goal was met, the need is still great. To invest in and support our Saints and Scholars, please visit https://bishopsgolf.org/.