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Special $5 Million Gift Launches Charity on the Road to $20 Million as 3 Legendary Houston Philanthropists Are Honored

150 Years (and Counting) of Serving Residents In Need

BY // 09.29.21

In celebration of 150 years of serving area residents in need, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston filled the ballroom of River Oaks Country Club for a dinner evening honoring posthumously three of the city’s great philanthropists. As a bonus, a $5 million endowment in honor of Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza was announced.

The late John Marek, Bill Marek and Ralph Marek were recognized for their longtime and faithful support of the charity, which since 1871 has been offering basic-needs assistance to individuals and families throughout the Houston area.

The Mareks story of arriving in Texas as Czech immigrants was recalled by Ralph Marek’s son, Stan Marek.

“Our immigrant family found the American dream only to lose it all in 1933. My father and his two brothers left Yoakum, Texas, and a life of poverty caused by the Great Depression,” Marek told the gathering.

“Four years of homelessness left an unforgettable impact in their lives. As successful adults in the construction industry in Houston, the Marek brothers and their mother vowed to help those experiencing hunger and homelessness. The Society of St. Vincent de paul was the perfect answer to fulfilling this goal. The Society was one of their favorite charities and remains an important part of the current Marek generation.”

Chaired by Stan Marek and Bruce Marek, the event raised $480,000 for the society.

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In addition, Msgr. Dan Scheel announced that a $5 million endowment had been established in honor of the beloved Fiorenza, the funds raised from generous supporters of the Society’s good works. This was the beginning of a longterm fundraising goal of $20 million that will allow the nonprofit to expand its services.

PC Seen: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell Oro, Bishop Emeritus George Sheltz, Society executive director Ann Schorno, Kerri and Downey Bridgwater, Carol Croom, Stacy and Michael Medrano, Saskia and John Gordon, Cathy and Gerardo Rivera, Cindy and Steve Hanan, and Susan and Larry Massey.

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