The Night of the Lion gala took a slightly different twist this year, when committee members, led by Mr. Dave Hogaboom and Mrs. Colleen Gaughan, chose not to single out one honoree. Instead, they loosened up the format, offering an interactive night centered around giving, friendship and fun.

Guests gathered in the lobby of the Mahoney Court, where they perused the silent auction and caught up with one another in a party atmosphere that played out in the school’s colors of red, white and blue.

“It’s all about the Lions,” said Nancy Sexton, who led the decorating committee. “Let’s celebrate the culture.”

Once they moved into the Mahoney Court, the gym sparkled in the same color scheme, decked out with balloons, flowers and special lighting effects, while the Cahill Gymnasium featured decadent food stations, from carved meats to seafood, kabobs and sushi.

“I love the new layout this year,” said Jennifer Pretto. “The rooms just flow from one to another.”

At the heart of the night was fundraising to make a Catholic education accessible to more students. A pair of seniors, Kevin Goss and Jeremy Yoder, underscored why that mission matters.

The two tag-teamed during an engaging address to the crowd of nearly 250 guests, describing how they had begun coming to the school as young children, following in the paths of their older siblings.

They went on to describe their own experience as students themselves, detailing the many activities they have become involved, and it was impressive.

“Essentially, I’ve grown up with Viator,” Kevin said “and I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to receive a Catholic education and participate in the Saint Viator community.”

Mr. Brian Liedlich, president of the school, thanked guests for their support of Saint Viator’s tuition assistance program.

“This year, we have budgeted a record $1.65 million for financial aid, in response to a larger than ever number of applications for assistance,” Mr. Liedlich said. “We know that 30 percent of our student body would not be able to attend Saint Viator High School without assistance.”

He closed his remarks, recalling a quote from the founder of the Viatorians, Fr. Louis Querbes, that captured the evening’s mission.

“People are bolder when they’re doing God’s work,” he said. “Tonight, through your support, we’re doing God’s work.”

Watch the full Paddle Raise speech below.