MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—Students, teachers, benefactors and leaders in Catholic education from across West Virginia will convene for the 25th annual Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools April 7 at the Morgantown Event Center in Morgantown, W.Va.

On the silver anniversary of the event, the Bishop’s Cross Award will be given to two organizations that share a rich history of support to Catholic education in West Virginia—the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the West Virginia Knights of Columbus.

The Aquinas Medal, the highest honor a student can receive from the diocese, will also be awarded to 26 students, one from each of its schools and Wheeling Jesuit University. As well, the St. Sebastian Medal will be awarded to high-achieving student athletes, one female and one male from each Catholic high school and from Wheeling Jesuit University.

“Our Catholic schools work diligently to provide an education of intense academic rigor within the context and practice of our Catholic faith,” said Mary Ann Deschaine, Ed.S., superintendent of Catholic Schools.

“As communities of Catholic faithful, each of our schools strive to educate the whole person by using the latest technology, implementing numerous initiatives in hands-on learning and fostering an active faith life. The two organizations that we will honor at this year’s Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools show the importance of living Gospel values and the strong impact that it has on those around them. These organizations epitomize what we strive to instill in each and every student.”

The Bishop’s Cross is presented to individuals or groups who, through their lives and works, have demonstrated, in extraordinary ways, their commitment to the mission of Catholic education in West Virginia. Each recipient will receive a replica of the late Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt’s pectoral cross, representing his role and responsibility as teacher. Schmitt began this annual event in 1995.

The following is more information on this year’s Bishop’s Cross honorees:

From 1862 to 2011, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph opened, taught and administered in Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. They served in both elementary and high schools as teachers, principals and superintendent of the diocesan school system. Sisters have also served on diocesan committees for curriculum and policy, as well as on the diocesan school board. They have shared with great love the charism and mission of their order with generations of students. The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph has also funded a number of initiatives—from technology advances to school-based health programs—positively affecting every Catholic school within the diocese.

The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic Men’s organization founded by Father Michael McGivney in 1882. Originally formed to protect Catholic widows and orphans, the organization has grown to provide so much more.

In 2017 the Knights of Columbus donated over $185 million dollars and 75 million hours to various charitable causes across the world. The first council was formed in West Virginia in 1900 and since then membership has grown to 5,660 members all across the country and in our great state. At the state level, the Knights of Columbus have been a major contributor to the Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools since its inception 25 years ago.

However, Knights make the biggest impact when they act locally. Many of these men are the teachers in our schools, our principals, coaches and service staff. They are the men volunteering on the weekends, the dads, uncles and grandfathers of our students and many times, even the priests of our churches. All of these Brother Knights are working day and night to make a difference for our schools and our children.

The day will begin with a special Mass celebrated by Msgr. Anthony Cincinnati, V.E., pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Morgantown, at St. Francis de Sales at 10 a.m. Reservations for the dinner are required and may still be made by contacting Cathy Palmer at (304) 233-0880, ext. 316. The cost is $50 per ticket.

The West Virginia Knights of Columbus are sponsoring the Aquinas Medal presentation at this year’s event. Over the past 24 years, the Knights have contributed more than $230,000 in support of the Bishop’s Dinner for Catholic Schools. This year, Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration will sponsor the St. Sebastian Medal presentation.

This is the sixth year that Highmark West Virginia is sponsoring the Bishop’s Cross presentation. Catholic school officials said this partnership will continue to benefit the students of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s Catholic schools for years to come.