On Tuesday, November 3 rd, 2015 the St. Paul's High School community honoured a long-time champion of Winnipeg's less fortunate Sister Lesley Sacouman, SNJM with the Ignatian Challenge Award at the 22nd annual Tribute Dinner.
The highest honour bestowed by St. Paul's, the Ignatian Challenge Award, was presented to Sister Lesley in front of a crowd of 800 alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students of St. Paul's High School. The Ignatian Challenge Award is presented annually to men and women who embrace the ideals of St. Ignatius Loyola, and reflect the character and qualities inherent in a Jesuit education at St. Paul's High School.
"The Tribute Dinner provides a context in which to celebrate, through the presentation of the Ignatian Challenge Award, those values that define St. Paul's: Faith, generosity, a commitment to justice and a willingness to serve" explained Fr. Len Altilia, S.J., President of St. Paul's High School. Fr. Altilia described Sister Lesley as being "thoroughly Ignatian" and praised her "deep love for the poor and her unwavering commitment to serving the most in need."
In addition to honouring Sister Lesley's long time service to the poor, Fr. Altilia also took the opportunity to acknowledge the 150 years of service by religious women in the Province of Manitoba. "The roots of Catholic healthcare, Catholic education and Catholic social services throughout the history of this province are sunk deeply in the communities of religious women who have left a lasting legacy of service. Nuns have been the primary agents by which the church's mission of care for the poor and marginalized has been realized."
Long-time friends, as well as presenting sponsors from Birchwood Automotive Group, R. Stephen '68 and Ruth Chipman, described Sister Lesley as "exuding a warmth and a sense of caring for others" adding that they knew of "no better example of a woman for others than Sister Lesley Sacouman."
In her characteristically gracious and unassuming manner, Sister Lesley Sacouman humbly accepted the award as a collective award and a tribute to the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and their associates. Sister Lesley described the three Ignatian challenges that she has encountered at various points throughout her life: the seeds that sowed the birth of Rossbrook House; the creation of Esther House, a safe house for recovering women; and the development of the Holy Names House of Peace, a refuge in Winnipeg's inner city for newcomer women. In her remarks Sister Lesley noted that the night's honour was "not a reflection of the past but a challenge for the future" and by doing so urged everyone in attendance to discover in each one's self "where our deep gladness and the world's hunger meet" and to "take the leap and trust the net will unfold."
The Tribute Dinner, St. Paul's annual fundraiser for the St. Paul's High School Bursary Fund, included a personal testimony from bursary recipient Dana Gregoire '01. Gregoire, a corporate lawyer, was thankful to those who made his education at St. Paul's possible and explained St. Paul's unique place in the world. "St. Paul's cannot be a place where only the most privileged send their boys. The school occupies a position of privilege in the community and with it comes an obligation of leadership. And the school's full-throated acceptance of this responsibility, rare amongst similar institutions, is why I believe so strongly in the school and what it stands for."
The evening also included a presentation by Mark Chipman '78 where he described the creation Gonzaga Middle School, a Jesuit academy in the city's Point Douglas neighbourhood. Opening in September 2016, Gonzaga Middle School will serve the city's most vulnerable and under-privileged students, tuition-free, thanks in large part to several St. Paul's alumni, supporters and friends.
Sister Lesley, who later spoke about the Gonzaga project in her speech, reminded everyone in attendance that "we are a mightily blessed community" who knows what "education, encouragement and support has meant in our lives." She concluded with a question for everyone to discern, "Is Gonzaga Middle School our collective Ignatian challenge? Could this be where our deep gladness and the world's hunger meet today?"
Returning this year was the 2015 Tribute Dinner Raffle that included eight amazing prizes graciously donated by members of the St. Paul's community valued at over $23,000. This year's raffle raised an additional $55,400 for the St. Paul's High School Bursary Fund.
The St. Paul's High School community is extremely grateful for the support of our 22nd annual Ignatian Challenge Award Tribute Dinner and would like to thank everyone for making this year's dinner possible.
In particular, thanks to this year's sponsors for their generosity and dedication to the mission and vision of St. Paul's High School:
Presenting Sponsor ($25,000)
Birchwood Automotive Group
Magis Sponsors ($10,000+)
Johnson Waste Management
The Kleysen Family
Paul's Hauling Ltd.
Bob Puchniak '65 and Family
Piston Ring and the J. Tennant Family
Maroon & White Sponsors ($5,000+)
BDR Services Ltd.
Cropo Funeral Services
DeLuca Fine Wines
G. Michael '58 and Gail Dennehy
Freeman Audio Visual
FWS Group of Companies
Brian Hardy '76 and Peter MacDonald '76
Kevin and Els Kavanaugh
National Bank Financial Wealth Management
P.L. Campeau Financial & Insurance Services
RBC Wealth Management
Winnipeg Free Press
Ignatian Sponsors ($3,500+)
Coughlin Insurance Brokers
G. Michael Dennehy '58 and Independent Fish
The Dufresne Group
G. J. Vis Enterprises
Harvard Developments Inc.
James Richardson & Sons, Limited
Jesuits of Winnipeg
Paul '81 and Anne Mahon and Family
National Leasing Group
Neptune Properties Inc.
Parrish and Heimbecker Limited
RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg
Royal Canadian Securities
St. Paul's High School Parent Guild
Structural Composite Technologies Ltd.
SWOB Group Benefits
Tower Engineering / LM Architechture
Twerdun Wealth Management
Winnipeg Building and Decorating
RBC Wealth Management
Lazy Bear Lodge
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
St. Paul's High School Alumni Association
RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg