At 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning, as I walked across our central patio to the main entrance of the school, it was business as usual. If not for a couple of white roofed tents that still peak through certain parts of the campus, you would never have thought that Tombola had come and gone. At that early hour, with the exception of the handful of sleepy-eyed students who laid across the benches stealing away a few extra minutes of sleep, the campus was fairly barren, absent of the tens of thousands of revelers who just hours ago had been drinking mojitos and eating pan con bistec.
The 50th anniversary of Tombola in Miami was an extraordinary success. Knowing that last year we raised $580,000.00, we set the goal at $600,000.00. I am happy to report that not only did we reach the goal, we surpassed it. Tombola raised $650,000.00 for the much-needed financial assistance program. Who would have thought that what Fr. Dorta Duque started 50 years ago with a handful of parents and alumni would shatter records like these?
But the greatness of Tombola is not simply about the money, it’s about the Belen community. Throughout the whole weekend, thousands of parents, students, faculty and alumni made their way through the school spending time with friends and colleagues. Many were the alumni who were pushing strollers filled with children wearing “future Wolverine” shirts. Many were the parents who spent quality time with their sons and sat with Belen alumni parents who proudly spoke about their sons’ successes in college, listening to them credit Belen for their endeavors. As it happens every year, I sat with the dedicated alumni delegates who met on Sunday and witnessed how 60 men, ferociously loyal to their alma mater, listened attentively as they contemplated how better to serve.
I want to thank all the members of our extraordinary community for making this happen. To Gigi García Chang and the members of the Office of Student Activities and Phil Fernandez and the members of the Office of Advancement for their tireless work and preparation. To Ana Perez Abreu and the members of the Business Office, who rarely left the “war room” and made sure that every penny was present and accounted for. To the Alumni Association for their constant support. To our extraordinary faculty, staff, and administration for their presence and enthusiasm. To Rick Echeverria, Orlando García, Ariel Nuñez, and the maintenance staff who are the behind-the-scenes juggernauts who help crank out a great Tombola. To the students and parents who are fully vested in Belen Jesuit and want to see it grow, not only for the sake of their own families, but the whole Belen Jesuit community.
Now we launch the final stretch of the academic year. Today we kick off the Lenten season with mass. Let us take this time to deepen our relationship with the one who gave it all so that we may have life. It is during this time of Lent that we are encouraged to give something up or do something more. Do this… give thanks. Give thanks to the Lord for the gift of this school that continues to form the great future leaders of our local and national community.
So, mark your calendars: next year’s Tombola will be held February 8-10, 2019. It’s just around the corner.
Our Lady of Belen… pray for us.