Annual Salute dinner sets ‘miracle’ goal

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., spoke during the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. He is slated to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Salute to Catholic School Alumni on March 14. (CNS File Photo by Bob Roller)

By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor

While tuition assistance provided by the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) has doubled in the last four years, applications for aid have more than doubled — from 1,800 applicants in 2014 to 4,100 in 2017.

This year, the foundation expects 4,500 or more applications for aid, said Richard A. Lechleiter, president of the CEF.

To respond to that need, the foundation has set a “miracle” goal for its largest annual fundraiser — meaning it might take a miracle to reach it. But Lechleiter said, “It’s what we need to do to support the families that are coming to us.”

The goal for this year’s Salute to Catholic School Alumni dinner is to net a million dollars. The event is set for March 14 at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville and ticket sales are already brisk, Lechleiter said during an interview Feb. 12.

“If we reach a million dollars this year, it would be close to a miracle. It’s a really aggressive goal,” he said.

If the CEF’s track record is an accurate predictor, the goal may be within reach. The Salute has broken record after record for years. In 2011, the Salute surpassed its fundraising goal, raising more than $300,000. By 2014, that figure had doubled. The $600,000 goal was broken by an additional $40,000.

Last year’s goal of $800,000 was shattered again, by $25,000.

“If we reach this level, it will really get people’s attention about the mission of the foundation and the value of Catholic education,” Lechleiter said of the goal.

The keynote speaker at this year’s event is Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn. After a World Youth Day Unite event in Washington, D.C., last summer,

Catholic News Service guest columnist Elise Italiano described the bishop as unexpectedly “the biggest star of the event.”

“Like the pope who shares his name, his approach is personal and passionate. He masterfully combined exegesis with personal accounts of his vocation story and invited the participants to share their own takeaways,” Italiano wrote.

Co-chair of this year’s event will be Gov. Matt Bevin. The governor, who is not Catholic, supports legislation that would provide tax credits to those who donate to the CEF and similar groups that award tuition assistance to non-public school students. The legislation is a priority of Kentucky’s bishops.

The CEF hopes the tax credits would lead to an increase in donations that would help low-income families afford Catholic schools.

The Salute will honor six graduates of Catholic schools who have had an impact on the community. The CEF will also award its annual Community Service Award. And this year’s recipient of the Father Joseph McGee Outstanding Catholic Educator Award will be recognized at the dinner.

“We have an unbelievable slate of honorees,” Lechleiter said. “The diversity of their achievement is a tremendous way for us to showcase the value of our Catholic schools.”

Lechleiter added that the Salute has a record number of benefactors.

Sponsorship opportunities, tables and tickets are available at or by calling 585-2747.

Following is a listing of this year’s honorees.

Michael D. Brennan

Michael D. Brennan is chief executive officer of Brandeis Machinery Company and president and chief operating officer of its parent company, Bramco, Inc.

He is a graduate of St. Albert the Great and Trinity High schools and Bellarmine University.

He serves on the Trinity High School Foundation Board and chairs its Resource Management Committee. He is an ad hoc member of Trinity’s school board finance committee.  He is also a member of Trinity’s Hall of Fame.

Brennan also volunteers  for Bellarmine University, the Boy Scouts and his parish, Holy Trinity Church. He and his wife, Elaine, have three children, Matthew, Meghan and Patrick.


Richard S. Buehner

Richard S. Buehner has worked in marketing, manufacturing and business development and has helped thousands of people “think about God.”

He graduated from St. Martha and St. Xavier High schools. He was a quarterback at St. X and twice named to the All-State Team and received Adidas, All Catholic and Parade Magazine All-American awards. 

At the University of Notre Dame, he was a member of the Irish team that won the 1977 National Championship. He completed his bachelor’s and an M.B.A. at the University of Kentucky.

In 1999, he joined Louisville Lamp as its president, and the company has since enjoyed a 10-fold growth in sales. He has served as a member of the St. Xavier Alumni Board and was named to the school’s Hall of Honors in 1988. 

In 2004, he co-founded TAG (“Think About God”), a non-profit organization that encourages people to make God a part of their lives with a daily email, called “TAGlines.” More than 100,000 people in 44 countries receive the daily email.

He and his wife, Vicki, are members of St. Margaret Mary Church and have three children — Jonathan, Lindsey, and Brian — and two grandchildren.

Barbara Lechleiter McGrath

Barbara Lechleiter McGrath is one of nine founders of St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, S.C., and has served as the school’s director of admissions for the past 20 years. 

In the 25 years since it opened with 13 students and $800, the school has grown to enroll 680 students in grades 6-12 on a 36-acre campus with a $10 million annual budget.

McGrath, who is the second eldest of nine Lechleiter children (her brother Richard A. Lechleiter is president of the CEF) graduated from St. Stephen Martyr School and Sacred Heart Academy. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati.

She and her husband, Doug, are members of St. Mary’s Church in Greenville.  Their daughters teach in Catholic schools — Carolyn at St. Ignatius School in Cincinnati and Julie at St. Patrick School in Louisville.

Charlotte Knoop Stengel

Charlotte Knoop Stengel is an architect, a designer and co-founder of ARCHITYPE Gallery in Clifton.

She graduated from St. Thomas More School, Presentation Academy and the University of Kentucky. 

She has volunteered with First Steps, Meredith Dunn School, Paws With Purpose and CHUM Therapeutic Riding Program. She has also been active with Presentation Academy’s Academic Enhancement Program, Global Studies Program and Tower Awards for Women Leaders. 

She and her husband, architect Brad Stengel, also participated in a medical mission to Guatemala, consulting on the construction of a teaching hospital.

The couple and their children, Samantha and Max, are members of St. Frances of Rome Church.


Jenny Metzger Stinnett

Jenny Metzger Stinnett is an attorney in commercial litigation with Fultz Maddox Dickens PLC law firm.

She graduated from St. Paul and Holy Cross High schools. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Notre Dame and juris doctor degree from the University of Kentucky.  She served as a judicial clerk for Chief Judge John G. Heyburn, II, of the U.S. District Court for Kentucky’s Western District.

She is a member of the Holy Cross High School Board of Directors and recently completed two consecutive terms as a board member of Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center and was active in its charity campaign to raise funds for its new facility. She has also been active in the Younger Women’s Club and Legal Aid Society.

She and her husband, Scott, are members of St. Agnes Church, where she teaches Children’s Church.  They have three children, Lily Kate, Abby and Liam.


Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson was appointed seventh Archbishop of Indianapolis by Pope Francis on June 13, 2017.

Archbishop Thompson attended St. Charles School in Marion County, Ky.,  Moore High School and Bellarmine University. 

He attended St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology and was ordained a priest on May 30, 1987. He earned a degree in canon law at St. Paul University in Ottawa.

As a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Archbishop Thompson served as a pastor,  associate pastor and administrator of several parishes; as a high school chaplain; as Metropolitan judicial vicar of the Archdiocese of Louisville and as its vicar general before being named the fifth Bishop of Evansville in 2011.    



Teresa J. Roberts

Teresa J. Roberts, recipient of the Father Joseph McGee Outstanding Catholic Educator Award, has devoted her career to Catholic education in Louisville, culminating in her current work as teacher and librarian at her alma mater, Presentation Academy.

She graduated from St. Thomas More School, Presentation Academy and Spalding University. She earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Louisville, then returned to Spalding to earn Rank I Certification.

Roberts began teaching at age 22, focusing on language arts, English and library science. She taught and served as librarian at St. Rita School and served as librarian at Holy Trinity School and St. Nicholas Academy. She began teaching English and serving as a librarian at Presentation in 2006.  She also moderates the student council.

She and her husband, Ken, study with the archdiocese’s diaconate class of 2020. 

In 2013, Roberts donated a kidney to a soldier injured in Afghanistan, whom she heard about in a news report.

She later told The Record that she immediately felt “an actual physical reaction, an electrical reaction” surge through her body.  “I felt like God touched me and asked me to do this. How do you say no?”

Roberts and her husband are members of St. Paul Church and have three children, Jake, Jill and Jenna.

David P. Calzi

David P. Calzi, the recipient of the Community Service Award, is a native of Buffalo, N.Y., and attended the  University of Kentucky. After graduating in 1983 with a degree in Accounting, he began a career in public accounting. He has provided professional services to large publicly held clients, including Brown-Forman, General Electric, Humana, Kindred Healthcare, Lexmark and YUM! Brands.

His commitment to the community has focused on education, especially for those who are underserved.  He serves in leadership roles at 55,000 Degrees, Leadership Louisville, the University of Kentucky’s Gatton School of Business and Endeavor Louisville.  He and his family also are active volunteers with Hand In Hand Ministries.

He has served on the boards of Greater Louisville Inc., Stage One Family Theatre, Junior Achievement, the Muhammad Ali Center, and the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. He was Chair of the Catholic Education Foundation, Fund for the Arts, Louisville Ballet, Hosparus, GLI Business Leaders for Education, the Kentucky Society of CPA’s Educational Foundation, and chaired the 1999 Metro United Way campaign.               

He and his wife, Jamie, are members of Holy Trinity Church and have two daughters, Emily and Maddie.

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