Friday, June 30, 2006

Tim Russert to be Speaker at Diocesan Scholarship Dinner

Tim Russert, host of NBC’s Meet the Press and the network’s chief political analyst, will be the speaker at this year’s St. Mary’s Education Fund Fall Dinner planned for Thursday, September 28, 2006 at White’s of Westport.

Proceeds from the annual Fall Dinner event support the St. Mary’s Education Fund, which provides need-based scholarships to students at Catholic elementary and middle schools in the Fall River diocese.

Russert attended Catholic schools in his native Buffalo, N.Y., and has often paid tribute to his teachers, saying that he was taught to read and write, but also to know right from wrong.

It may well be that a Sister of Mercy who is now serving in the Fall River diocese played a role in getting him started on his career in journalism.

According to Russert, it was Sr. Lucille Socciarelli, his seventh-grade teacher at Buffalo’s St. Bonaventure Grade School -and now a chaplain at Fall River’s Charlton Memorial Hospital- who took him aside at one point during the year and said, “Timmy, we have to find a way to channel your energy. I’m starting a new school newspaper, and you’re going to be the editor.”

He remembers doing the job and beginning a love of writing.

In an address at the 2005 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, Russert said that “schools that are worth attending” should be at the top of a list of priorities aimed at improving the lives of young Americans.

Fall Dinner chairman Nicholas M. Christ of Citizens-Union Bank in Fall River is grateful that Russert accepted the invitation to speak at the dinner.

“We are so fortunate that Mr. Russert will be able to be with us for our Fall Dinner,” Christ said. “Throughout his very public career, he has always placed great importance on the education he received in Catholic schools. He is the ideal man to have on the program of an event designed to raise money to help families afford a Catholic education.”

Russert became moderator of Meet the Press in 1991 and since then has interviewed every major figure in American politics. His oft-quoted show has become the most watched Sunday morning interview program. He is also seen on NBC Nightly News and the Today show offering political commentary and on CNBC where he hosts his own weekly Tim Russert Show.

He is senior vice president and Washington bureau chief of NBC News, which he joined in 1984.

His work has been recognized with numerous major journalism awards and he holds some 41 honorary doctorate degrees from American colleges and universities.

In 2004 he found time to write a national bestseller, Big Russ and Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life, a memoir about his father’s role in his life in which he remembered that the reason his father worked two jobs was to send his four kids to Catholic schools.

After St. Bonaventure, Russert graduated from Jesuit run Canisius High in Buffalo and Jesuit run John Carroll University in Cleveland. He then earned a law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

He and his family are members of a Catholic parish in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and he frequently writes and speaks of the role of faith in his life.

September’s Fall Dinner, to begin with a 5:30 p.m. reception, is one of two annual fund-raising events for the St. Mary’s Education Fund.

In the past academic year alone, the Fund provided over $660,000 in partial tuition aid to more than 650 students.

Dinner chairman Christ said that “a successful Fall Dinner is absolutely necessary if the St. Mary’s Fund is going to be able to assist the increasing numbers of students looking for help with tuition costs.”

Volunteer lay committees in four regions of the Fall River diocese are reaching out to businesses, community and academic leaders, and individuals to extend an invitation to sponsor a table or purchase a ticket for the Fall Dinner.

Anyone interested in attending or in need of more information, should contact the Diocesan Development Office at 508-675-1311.

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