Orange Catholic Foundation receives $3 million for Catholic schools
The gift from the Andrew J. Kessler Estate was unveiled during today’s 20th annual Conference on Business and Ethics, one of Orange County’s premier fundraisers.
GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (April 21, 2023) — The Orange Catholic Foundation (OCF) and the Diocese of Orange Department of Catholic Schools are pleased to announce a new $3-million donation that will help fund Catholic education in Orange County for years to come.
The gift from the Andrew J. Kessler Estate was first announced during today’s 20th annual Conference on Business and Ethics (CBE), one of Orange County’s premier fundraisers that has raised millions for Catholic schools since 2003.
Harry M. Kraemer, an executive partner with Madison Dearborn Partners and professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, served as CBE’s keynote speaker. Lucy Dunn, vice chair of OCF’s board and CEO emeritus of the Orange County Business Council, was the emcee for the event, which drew nearly 700 attendees to the JW Marriott Anaheim Resort.
Andrew “Andy” Joseph Kessler III was a longtime parishioner of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Irvine. He died in May 2022, on the eve of his 83rd birthday. A professional accountant, he left the bulk of his estate to the Diocese, with the intent that his gift would serve the faith community he loved.
“Catholic schools continues to be one of the Church’s most effective instruments for passing on the faith from one generation to the next,” said Steve Cameron, OCF executive director. “People like Andy, who have been thoughtful about how they want their life’s work to live on beyond them, inspire me and I look forward to helping others follow his lead.”
Bishop Kevin Vann presented the $3-million gift to a surprised Dr. Erin Barisano, superintendent of the Diocese’s Catholic schools. “What a beautiful gift of generosity that will continue to carry on this gift of Catholic education for years to come,” she said. “My heart is filled with gratitude this morning.”
Andy, who was born and raised in Pennsylvania, lived in Irvine for 40 years. He loved being Catholic, reading, playing tennis, and listening to Catholic radio on his tiny transistor radio.
“The memory of Andy and the generous gift he left for Orange County’s Catholic education bring us all together, even following his passing to the other side of eternity, into the Hands of God,” said Fr. Scott Borgman, a friend of Kessler and spiritual advisor. “Andy was a truly exemplary and beautiful soul. I was always impressed with his constant kindness and sweetness. He would have wanted us to remember that life is precious, that your life matters, and that there is hope when we focus on eternity.”
During the CBE, OCF also honored Dr. Elysabeth Nguyen and Matthew J. Heslin with the Bishop’s Award for Exemplary Business Integrity.
Nguyen is the founder of several companies in renewable energy, compostable consumer products and medical devices. Last year, she co-founded the OLLV Foundation (named after the Our Lady of La Vang Shrine on the Christ Cathedral campus) alongside select pastors of the Diocese. She currently serves as its CEO. The foundation manages fundraising and construction for the shrine, as well as the cathedral’s new St. Callistus Chapel and Crypts project.
Nguyen moved to Orange County from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2012 and has served on several committees and boards within the Diocese, including the renovation committee of Christ Cathedral, the Our Lady of La Vang Shrine, and the Sisters of St. Joseph Health Foundation. Her companies have donated medical supplies across Orange County, specifically to Catholic Charities of Orange County and the Christ Cathedral campus.
Heslin is the founder and chief executive officer of Green Sands Capital, LLC. He has led various entities in the acquisition, development and disposition of more than $3 billion in real estate.
Heslin is also a parishioner at St. Kilian, where he serves on the greeters and finance ministries, and is on the Diocese of Orange’s Real Estate Council.
In addition, the Orange County and San Juan Capistrano chapters of Legatus received the Farmers & Merchants Bank Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors those who have made a significant contribution to the Orange County community and beyond.
The CBE started in 2003 with a few hundred people in the gym of the Marywood campus in Orange, the Diocese’s headquarters before it moved to Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove. The event has grown significantly since then, raising more than $6.3 million and earning the rank of the No. 1 breakfast by the Orange County Business Journal. Past CBE guest speakers have included Vin Scully, Patricia Heaton and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
For those interested in learning about ways to leave a legacy of philanthropy that serves the community beyond your lifetime, please contact Kathleen Hurtt, OCF’s vice president of philanthropy and operations, at (714) 282-3026 or email [email protected].
About The Orange Catholic Foundation
The Orange Catholic Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) charitable corporation that exists to serve the Catholic community of Orange County. As a foundation for Catholics, we assist families and individuals to leave a legacy uniquely aligned with their Catholic values and beliefs. The Foundation’s primary function is to raise funds to support parishes, Catholic schools and ministries throughout Orange County, as well as priest retirement. In addition, the Foundation manages endowments and a variety of funds, including scholarship funds and donor-advised funds in Orange County.
About the Roman Catholic Diocese of OrangeWith 1.3 million Catholics, 57 parishes, five Catholic centers and 35 schools, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange is one of the largest and most diverse faith communities in the United States. The Diocese empowers Catholics across Orange County to have an active life of faith that is integrated and woven into the fabric of their daily lives through the community and sacramental life of the Church. Under the leadership of Bishop Kevin Vann, the Diocese works to establish and support dynamic, vibrant parishes and schools welcoming all to live the Gospel with faith, joy, charity and unity. Christ Cathedral, the spiritual home of the Bishop of Orange, was dedicated in July 2019. Learn more about the Diocese of Orange at rcbo.org.
- Bradley Zint
- [email protected]
- Desk: (714) 282-6052
- Cell: (657) 390-3914
- Assistant Director of Communications, Office of Communications