A Cardinal's blessing

Feather boas, beads and partying priests add up to one wild, $1.1 million Mardi Gras: It's a record breaker

Feather boas, beads and priests add up to one wild, $1.1 million party

News, Shelby,UST Mardi Gras, Bob Ivany, Marianne Ivany, Trini Mendenhall, Jan and Oniel Mendenhall, Feb. 2015
UST President Bob Ivany, from left, Marianne Ivany, and gala chairs Trini Mendenhall and Jan and Oniel Mendenhall. Photo by Michael Marquez
4 Harry and Cora Sue Mach, from left, with Cardinal Di Nardo at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Harry and Cora Sue Mach, left, with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
8 George Strake, from left, Adrienne Copeland,  Annette Strake and King Alfonso Moreno at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
George Strake, from left, Adrienne Copeland, Annette Strake and Alfonso Moreno. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
2 Mason Everist, from left, Charlie Thomas and Trini Mendenhall at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Mason Everist, from left, honoree Charlie Thomas and gala chair Trini Mendenhall. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
25 St. Thomas student volunteers at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
University of St. Thomas student volunteers decked out for the second line parade. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
17 Will and Minnie Baird, from left, and Hallie and John Daugherty III at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Will and Minnie Baird, left, with Hallie and John Daugherty III. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
20 Stacy and John Andell at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Stacy and John Andell. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
21 Carol and Paul Beck at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Carol and Paul Beck. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
19 NAMES at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Tim and Roxann Neumann. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
12 Jesse and Gloria Bounds, from left, Mandy Snyder and Geoffrey Castro at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Jesse and Gloria Bounds, from left, Mandy Snyder and Geoffrey Castro. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
24 Madelyn Farris, left, and Pat Breen at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Madelyn Farris, left, and Pat Breen. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
16 Andrew Cordes, from left, NAME and Brian Teichman at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Andrew Cordes, from left, Nancy Ames and Brian Teichman. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
6 Laura and Dave Ward at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Laura and Dave Ward. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
5 Doug Sandvig and Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Doug Sandvig, left, and Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
9 Heidi Chelala, from left, Maricela Diebra and Victoria Schoeahofer at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Heidi Chelala, from left, Maricela Diebra and Victoria Schoeahofer. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
18 Tyrone Willis at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
Tyrone Willis. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby,UST Mardi Gras, Bob Ivany, Marianne Ivany, Trini Mendenhall, Jan and Oniel Mendenhall, Feb. 2015
4 Harry and Cora Sue Mach, from left, with Cardinal Di Nardo at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
8 George Strake, from left, Adrienne Copeland,  Annette Strake and King Alfonso Moreno at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
2 Mason Everist, from left, Charlie Thomas and Trini Mendenhall at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
25 St. Thomas student volunteers at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
17 Will and Minnie Baird, from left, and Hallie and John Daugherty III at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
20 Stacy and John Andell at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
21 Carol and Paul Beck at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
19 NAMES at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
12 Jesse and Gloria Bounds, from left, Mandy Snyder and Geoffrey Castro at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
24 Madelyn Farris, left, and Pat Breen at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
16 Andrew Cordes, from left, NAME and Brian Teichman at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
6 Laura and Dave Ward at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
5 Doug Sandvig and Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
9 Heidi Chelala, from left, Maricela Diebra and Victoria Schoeahofer at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015
18 Tyrone Willis at the St. Thomas Mardi Gras Gala February 2015

As Cardinal Daniel DiNardo blessed the black-tie crowd at the University of St. Thomas Mardi Gras celebration, he prayed "Grant us, oh Lord, to celebrate this Mardi Gras with great fun and may we spend lots of money."

The cardinal's prayers were surely answered with a rocking Mardi Gras party that raised $1.1 million in scholarship funds for students attending the Catholic university.

 "They took a leap of faith and that's what it's all about." 

Gala chairs Trini Mendenhall and Jan and Oniel Mendenhall, who earned his MBA at UST '04, kicked it up a notch this year, moving the event from River Oaks Country Club to the Hilton Americas-Houston. Their risky bravado was rewarded with a record turnout of 650 and record dollars.

"They took a leap of faith and that's what it's all about," said UST president Bob Ivany.

"The University of St. Thomas means the world to our family," Trini Mendenhall said in remarks to the gathering. "We have been involved with UST for more than 10 years, working to help make it a shining star in Houston and in Texas."

The evening honored Charlie Thomas and his family, recognized for their support of the university. Three family members are UST graduates. "There's nothing better you can support than UST," Thomas said when accepting the honor. Joining him on stage were his three daughters — Kelly Thomas, Robin Klaes and Tracy Everist.

Spotted among the jubilant crowd of Mardi Gras revelers amid the purple, green and gold decor (feather boas, beads and masks included) were Marianne IvanyAnnette and George Strake, Pat and Dan Breen, Carol and Paul Beck, Minnie and Will Baird, Blanche Earthman Morello, Dorothy and Mickey Ables, Cora Sue and Harry Mach, Carmen and Butch Mach, Karen Winston, Cindy Burns and Laura and Dave Ward.

The Catholic family of priests and nuns was present as well including Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza, Auxiliary Bishop George Sheltz, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Vincent Rizzotto and Bishop Curtis Guillory of Beaumont.

After a scrumptious dinner (bread pudding to die for), the crowd took to the dance floor to the sounds of SkyRocket

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