The gift of giving


“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven… But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
— Matthew 6:1-4

These words from Matthew are truly present in the St. Dominic community of Oyster Bay, which recently received an anonymous donation of 10 million dollars to fund a new science center for the schools of St. Dominic. Work is well underway, and the new facility will be available to the students in the fall of 2012.

During this season of giving, parishioners, administration, faculty, and students ask themselves, “What type of person anonymously donates a gift this large to help his or her community?”

Mrs. Denise Smith, St. Dominic High School principal, describes this donor as a “spiritual human being who is thankful to God for his or her great fortune. The donor is selfless by using it to help the community.”

Mr. Vin Torti, St. Dominic director of development for the parish and schools, stated, “It takes a very special person. In fact, the 10 million dollar gift is one of the largest gifts given in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.” And it is a gift that never stops giving because learning at the science center could open the door for St. Dominic students to potentially one day change the world.

One prospective student, as Mr. Torti explained, is excited about an advanced science center because its endless possibilities can one day help the student “put an end to cancer.”

Father Gerard Gordon, St. Dominic associate pastor, said, “Our community has been historically blessed with generous souls. This generosity has created an educational environment that infuses the Gospel into everyday teachings. We may be building a science center, but by preaching the essence of Jesus’ word in all academic studies, we will always work under the guidance of the Gospel.”

All of this is consistent with what Msgr. Charles Canivan, third pastor of the parish and founder of the St. Dominic elementary and high schools, planned to accomplish for the schools. He had a vision “to build schools that gave glory to God by providing an education rooted in science, math and religion.”    

After receiving this gift, we realize that the donor is the true definition of a philanthropist: a lover of humanity. Mr. Torti stated, “Philanthropy is a wonderful gift because all of us can give and receive. Donors receive great satisfaction knowing they are helping someone else. Whether we give money, volunteer for a cause we love, or help someone in need, we are doing God’s work; there is nothing better.”

This leaves us as Catholics questioning what our potential to give is. As Catholics we are called to lead a life of service. Giving not only refers to material gifts because our faith calls upon us to help humanity in any way, shape or form. Nothing is too big or small when it comes to the gift of giving.

Deacon Rick Iandoli, theology teacher, reflected, “The new science and technology building is just a huge gift for St. Dominic. This symbol of generosity will inspire all of us to continue to make St. Dominic a thriving school for years to come.”

Pamela Hickey and Sara Abd Rabbo, seniors in St. Dominic High School, shared, “This incredible gift inspires us to work hard and succeed, so we can one day give back to our communities.”

This gift of 10 million dollars teaches us a lesson that some people will never learn in a lifetime; it is important to give what you can. Our faith drives us to love without limits and give beyond our means. As a community we will grow closer and learn to push ourselves to perform extraordinary actions that are the essence of our faith. These will bring us closer to God.

This anonymous donor has paid it forward; now what are we going to do with the knowledge about the gift of giving?

AMANDA DEFEO and ALEXANDRA MULÉ are juniors at St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay.