BRIDGEPORT—“May our schools always be vibrant places where faith and learning are the center of our lives,” Bishop Caggiano said in his blessing at annual “Breakfast of Champions” held in Our Lady Queen of Saints Hall at the Catholic Center.
More than 200 parents, principals and priests turned out to honor the 44 young people who were selected as recipients of this year’s St. Thomas Aquinas Award for academic excellence and the St. Sebastian Award for team leadership and sports achievements.
“I am very proud of these students who have already achieved so much in their studies and on the field, and even more encouraged by their life of faith and virtue,” the bishop said.
Among the recipients was Eighth grader Grace Tirado of St. Peter School, Danbury, who was honored to be accompanied by her mother, Christine, and her pastor, Fr. Greg Mecca, pastor of St. Peter Parish.
Her favorite subject at St. Peter’s is language arts, but she’s most excited about studying science and chemistry and becoming a cheerleader when she enters Immaculate High School next September.
“I’m proud of her, “ said mom, Christine. “She worked very hard. This year she’s improved a lot. She focused on her studies, and when she sets her mind on something she’s determined.”
Jack Donofrio received the St. Thomas Award for his efforts at St. Theresa School, Trumbull. He was accompanied by his parents Jeff and Suzanne, who were very proud of him.
He said he loved all aspects of his life at St. Theresa, particularly planning clarinet in the school band, which led him to become part of the Future Musicians All State Band and gave him the opportunity to play at Lincoln Center. His favorite subject is math, and he’ll be attending St. Joseph High School next year on a Presidential Scholarship.
“It’s a sign of great achievement. Jack embodies not only high academic achievement but also the faith, which he expresses in terms of his character. He’s really exemplary. He’s one of those kids you can count on to bring the other kids up. Although he’s quiet, students look up to him and will emulate him,” said Principal Salvatore Vittoria.
Father Brian Gannon, Pastor of St. Theresa, praised Jack for his commitment as an altar server and interest in Eucharistic Adoration.
After receiving individual awards the students all came forward for a group picture with Bishop Caggiano and others.
“I am very proud of these young people,” said Dr. Stephen Cheeseman, Superintendent of Schools, “I hope that the recognition they receive today encourages them to always strive to reach their full potential. I pray that they remain rooted in Christ and use their gift in His service.”
2016 Breakfast of Champions Honorees
St. Thomas Aquinas Award
The recipients of the St. Thomas Aquinas Award were selected for two reasons. These individuals have shown excellence in academics at their respective schools. The awardees also exemplify the Gospel Values we are called to in our Catholic faith through service to others and Christ-like behavior. The award has been named in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest and most influential theologians of all time. He was extremely focused in the area of academics as well as in the practice of virtue. St. Thomas Aquinas lived in the thirteenth century, was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope St. Pius V in 1567. In 1880, Pope Leo XIII designated him as the patron saint of all Catholic universities, academies, colleges and schools throughout the world.
2017 Breakfast of Champions Honorees
St. Thomas Aquinas Award
5th Grade Recipients
Katerina Koutouvides – Our Lady Star of the Sea School, Stamford
Maeve Petrizzi – St. Cecilia School, Stamford
Kyara Scialpi – Holy Spirit School, Stamford
8th Grade Recipients
Matthew Catalani – Greenwich Catholic School, Greenwich
Julia Dabrowski – St. Mark School, Stratford
Megan DeLallo – All Saints Catholic School, Norwalk
Joseph DiMaria – St. Rose of Lima School, Newtown
Patrick Dineen – St. Catherine of Siena School, Trumbull
Jack Donofrio – St. Theresa School, Trumbull
Erica Estrella – Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Augustine)
Jacob Fleischer – St. Lawrence School, Shelton
Jasmine Fuller – Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Ann)
Grace Garvey – St. Mary School, Bethel
Abby Giansiracusa – St. Joseph School, Danbury
Ava Golden – St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, Fairfield
Miranda Hancock – Our Lady of Fatima School, Wilton
Molly McAndrew – St. Aloysius School, New Canaan
Zachary Meyerson – St. Gregory the Great School, Danbury
Gabrielle Nagle – Trinity Catholic Middle School, Stamford
Alexa Pannese – St. Jude School, Monroe
Joshua Pianto – Catholic Academy of Bridgeport (St. Andrew)
Rebecca Sousa – Assumption Catholic School, Fairfield
Sarah Sportini – St. James School, Stratford
Isabelle Thompson – St. Mary School, Ridgefield
Grace Tirado – St. Peter School, Danbury
Sebastian Tseng – St. Joseph School, Brookfield
Marcus Yancoskie – St. Joseph School, Shelton
12th Grade Recipients
Stephen Caponetti – Trinity Catholic High School, Stamford
Andrew Fallon – Notre Dame High School, Fairfield
Christopher Lopez – Kolbe Cathedral High School, Bridgeport
Jillian Pruner – Immaculate High School, Danbury
Erin Welch – St. Joseph High School, Trumbull
St. Sebastian Award
The recipients selected for the St. Sebastian Award were selected for two reasons. These individuals have shown leadership in their respective high schools as the captain of an athletic team. Additionally, the awardees have shown athletic success in that particular sport. The award has been named in honor of St. Sebastian who was known for his physical endurance and his energetic way of spreading and defending the Catholic faith. He was a Roman Martyr who died for the faith in about the year 283. St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes.
St. Sebastian Award
12th Grade Recipients
Sean Fahey – Immaculate High School, Boys Indoor Track
Christian Morris – Immaculate High School, Boys Indoor Track
Diana Kirkman – Immaculate High School, Girls Cross Country
Danielle Marcone – Immaculate High School, Girls Cross Country
Kayla Lanza – Immaculate High School, Girls Soccer
Brianna Kydes – Notre Dame High School, Girls Soccer
Samantha LaValle – Notre Dame High School, Girls Soccer
Delaney O’Keefe – Notre Dame High School, Girls Soccer
Christina DiCesare – St. Joseph High School, Girls Soccer
Lindsey Savko – St. Joseph High School, Girls Soccer
Sophia Smith – St. Joseph High School, Girls Soccer
Peter Galgano – Trinity Catholic High School, Boys Basketball
Pictures by Amy Mortensen