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‘Raise the Roof’ fundraiser returns with luau theme

Pigs were roasting, and many guests were spotted lounging, sipping on fruity drinks topped off with tiny umbrellas. For one night only, St. Elizabeth Seton Church transformed into a tropical paradise.

The summer vibe was a part of Orland Hills-based church’s theme for “Raise the Roof,” an annual fundraiser that helps support Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Catholic School.

St. Francis of Assisi in Orland Park and St. Julie Billiart Roman Catholic Church and St. Stephen Deacon and Martyr, both in Tinley Park, were also a part of the effort.

Altogether, the area churches look to replenish the $215,000 they borrowed to pay for the cost of repairs to the school’s windows and walls. And while that is a priority, “Raise the Roof” also offered an opportunity for area parishioners to celebrate their faith, as well as a chance to get to know their fellow neighbors.

“For several years, the walls and the windows of the school on the third floor were leaking, and it was like a $300,000-plus repair,” said The Rev. William Corcoran of St. Elizabeth Seton Church. “It wasn’t a scheduled repair.

“It was something that was extraordinary, so we needed to raise money. The parish gave $60,000, the school gave $100,000, but then we had like a $200,000-plus loan.”

Last year, “Raise the Roof” raised approximately $25,000, and organizers were anticipating that they’d bring in $35,000 this time around.

“It’s going to take at least four years [to replenish the funds,]” Corcoran said. “It may take longer than that. It will take a while.

“We’ll be [holding the fundraiser] at least two more years. My guess is maybe a little bit beyond that. To raise a $200,000 profit, that’s a lot to do.”

While Corcoran understands that making those payments will take some time, the fundraiser highlighted how important Cardinal Bernardin is to the communities and the families that it serves.

“To have people from all four parishes work together is a good thing,” he said, noting at “Raise the Roof’s” inaugural year, 200 people attended.

“It’s great to see people from all four of the parishes, and the priests from all four of the parishes come together to show that the school is shared by everyone in the area,” said Kevin Oliver, a member of St. Elizabeth Seton Church.

Oliver shared his daughter is in the third grade, and she loves it at Cardinal Bernardin.

“Catholic education is a big part of our family, and this was something that we knew that our children would go to Catholic school,” he added. “It was very important for us to have a good quality school [to be] connected to, not just our parish but the other parishes that our children can benefit.”

Corcoran noted that Cardinal Bernardin has earned the Blue Ribbon, a national award given to schools by the U.S. Department of Education for academic excellence.

“[It’s an] excellent school,” Corcoran said. “It’s a wonderful facility. [The fundraiser] just helps build the support needed for the mission of the school and the four parishes.”

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