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 Ivany, Annette 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.