NCC Founder Monsignor William J. Linder is a dreamer and a doer. One of his dreams is “to see the return of Newark’s glory,” according to Sister June Favata, Administrative Director of Saint Vincent Academy. One way Monsignor has pursued that goal is by supporting the four-year, Catholic, college preparatory school in Newark by providing scholarships to individual students.
Over the years, Monsignor and New Community have committed large sums of money for scholarships to enable young women from low income families to attend SVA, which was founded in 1869 by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth. For his longtime support, Saint Vincent Academy honored Monsignor with the 2014 Pelican Award on October 16.
“Monsignor Linder imagined the way things could and should be for this city, (for) the simple folk…” Sr. June said to more than 200 guests in attendance at SVA’s 29th Annual Friends in Concert celebration.
Praising the administrative team of the all-female prep school led by Sr. June, Monsignor said that Saint Vincent Academy has “created miracle upon miracle.” With a college placement rate of nearly 100 percent, SVA has launched many graduates to reach influential positions in professions ranging from law and medicine to education and community development.
“This is our dream for our young ladies,” Monsignor said of SVA, an institution located on West Market Street across from NCC headquarters and which he referred to as “special.”
“They deserve it and they can get it and see a dream come true,” he added.
Newark resident Monique Illuonokhalumhe, now a freshman chemistry major at Montclair State University, attended SVA with the aid of the William J. Linder Scholarship Fund. She says that attending SVA “really nurtured my love for education.”
“If it wasn’t for Monsignor, I wouldn’t have been able to attend…it helped me become the woman I am today,” 18-year-old Illuonokhalumhe said.
In addition to Monsignor, SVA recognized the following honorees for their longtime support of the school: Dana Dowd Williams, Founding Board Member of SVA, and her husband, Mark, and the late Kevin Shanley and the Shanley family.
Laissa Alexis, 15, from Orange, said she’s grateful for the excellent staff at the school, in particular her teachers.
“Teachers really know who you are—you’re not just a number,” Alexis, a junior, said.
An elegant evening affair held in the school’s transformed gymnasium, Friends In Concert featured a program highlighting the talents of SVA’s student body. Monsignor received a standing ovation from the attendees, which included NCC CEO Richard Rohrman and his wife, Joanne, Chief of Staff Kathy Spivey, NCC Board Members A. Zachary Yamba, Fernando Colon, Edgar Nemorin and Madge Wilson, among other New Community employees.
After dinner and cocktails, students performed a musical selection, original poetry and an African dance that included NCC Director of Nursing Veronica Onwunaka’s three daughters, Chioma (Class of 2015), Chiamaka (Class of 2016) and Chikama (Class of 2017).
Beyond sibling bonds, SVA fosters a true sense of camaraderie among the young women, Advisory Board Chairman Michael Long said. “There’s a clear sense of family here. The girls call each other ‘sister,’” he said.