Xavier College Preparatory High School had a rare opportunity to honor the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation at its 11th Annual Companions' Dinner. It was a special occasion to thank the foundation for donating the initial 96 acres, on which the valley's only Jesuit high school is built. Since the school opened in 2006, the Berger Foundation has continued to support its mission of forming compassionate leaders as Xavier has graduated 721 students to date.
Traditional with the school's Companions' Dinner, the evening began with a Catholic Mass led by The Most Reverend Gordon D. Bennett, S.J., D.D., of Loyola Marymount University. A cocktail reception with lavish hors d'oeuvres enticed guests onto the patio at the Ritz-Carlton Resort. The Xavier College Prep Chamber Quartet was the entertainment for the pre-dinner social hour. Father Howard Lincoln offered the invocation, blessing the meal and those who prepared it, which boasted: Roquette Salad, followed by Braised Short Ribs or Mediterranean Sea Bass. Dessert was a delightful caramel and hazelnut chocolate mousse bar along side a lemon meringue tart.
DoeDee Rover, President Emerita and Director of Marketing and Advancement for the school, gave a heartfelt speech about the Berger Foundation and its board believing in the vision and mission of the school early on. Then, she and Chris Alling, current school President, presented members of the foundation board with a large framed lithograph of St. Francis Xavier, for whom the school is named. Attending the event on behalf of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation were Ronald and Sherrie Auen, Christopher and Carol McGuire, Douglass and Gwen Vance, Catharine Reed, Francis and Mary Ann Wong and Michael Rover.
In her comments, Rover said it was important for Xavier to not only publically recognize the Berger Foundation for all its Board of Directors has done for them, but also all the private, family foundation has done for hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the Coachella Valley. Since 1988, the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation has contributed over $700 million to charities throughout Southern California and the United States. More than half of that has been given directly to established 501(c)3 organizations in the Coachella Valley. Many of those nonprofits attended Xavier's event to also pay tribute to the Berger Foundation including Dr. Lisa Lindley of Coachella Valley Symphony; Stephanie Landes of Desert Christian Academy; Michael Landesof Eisenhower Medical Center; Dr. Frank Ercoli of Hanson House; Jan Lupia of HEARTBeat at 22; Matt Johnson of Old Town Artisan Studio; Bill Powers of Ophelia Project; Juan De Lara of the Salton Sea Action Committee; Ruth Moir and Susie Morales of Steinway Society; Allen Monroe and Jan Hawkins, of The Living Desert; Rick and Sherry Mesa, Ernie Ruben and Teddi Rozell, with The Ranch Recovery Center.
Each of the 200-plus guests attending the dinner received a replica of the Pectoral Cross that Pope Francis wears. Enclosed in a box and tied with a bow, the silver cross inside represents "the good Shepard" who guides his flock to the fold.
Xavier College Preparatory High School's next fundraiser is its Annual Day of Giving on May 22, 2017. The private, Jesuit high school is located at 34-200 Cook St., Palm Desert. For more information about the school, call 760-601-3900 or visit xavierprep.org.