St. Gregory the Great plans Diamond Gala

The St. Gregory the Great gala will be held May 18 at the U.S. Grant Hotel. (courtesy of Brie Atwater)

St. Gregory the Great plans Diamond Gala

What started out as a small group of families bringing their own chairs to Hoyt Park or to the home of their then-pastor to gather for Sunday mass in the fall of 1985 has since flourished in to a robust parish community with a beautiful, award-winning church campus on Blue Cypress Drive. Saint Gregory the Great (STGG) Catholic Church is now home to more than 3,100 parishioner families, at least 65 active groups and ministries, and a school that offers Catholic education to children from preschool through grade eight. Over the years, the ability of STGG to continue to expand its offerings to the community has relied heavily on fundraising activities. Notable among them is its annual fundraiser gala, which will be held this year on May 18 at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.

Dubbed the “Diamond Gala: Cheers to 10 Years in Catholic School Education,” this year’s event celebrates the 10th anniversary of STGG Catholic School’s opening in 2009. Since that time, the school has grown in its number of grades and students taught, including the most recent addition of its preschool in February 2018. The campus has also seen improvements, including technology in its classrooms, sod on its playing field, a library and a science lab.

Brie Atwater is a parent at the school, and this year’s gala chair.

“This year’s gala is special to me, personally, because it was very important for us to choose a parish that had a school connected to it. We’re very much invested in our daughter’s Catholic education,” she said.

Volunteering her time to help raise funds for both the church and school – as event proceeds are split evenly between the two – is a worthwhile endeavor for Atwater because it is an opportunity for her to give back to a parish and school community that has been very welcoming to her family.

As the event chair, Atwater works with a team of other volunteers, parish clergy, staff and school administration to organize event logistics and secure participation from the community. The gala is an evening cocktail attire affair comprised of a three-course meal, musical entertainment, dancing, a silent auction, a live auction and a raffle. According to Atwater, more than 200 items have been donated by members of the community, including parishioners, school parents and students, and local business owners.

Noteworthy contributions made by local families and STGG parishioners include the Korn family, which helped to secure the event venue; the Collins family of Collins Family Jewelers, which donated a diamond necklace valued at more than $7,000 that will be featured in the silent auction; and long-time parishioner Ray McKewon of Xceptional Music Company who will provide musical entertainment at the gala. Atwater is still actively seeking event sponsors, and will also continue to accept contributions for the silent auction up until the week before the event.

Atwater expects approximately 400 attendees. Beyond the STGG community, both STGG School Principal Maeve O’Connell and STGG Pastor Father Nicholas Clavin, wish to extend a hand of hospitality and invitation to the greater Scripps Ranch community.

“The gala allows us an opportunity to welcome people with open arms,” O’Connell said. “We are here to share the message that we are a faith-based-community and all are welcome.”

Clavin shared an even deeper emphasis on community as he reflected on the 2003 Cedar Fires when the STGG church and parish hall became a refuge and outreach center for hundreds of families in the community.

“It forged a great bond between the greater Scripps Ranch and the Catholic community,” he said. “Hospitality is the hallmark of our parish and of our school. We welcome one and all, Catholic and non-Catholic, alike.”

To learn more about the Diamond Gala or to purchase tickets, visit or email

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