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68 Star-Filled Galas Light the Way

How many Catholic people does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
-Samuel Jordan, 4th grader at St. Anne Catholic School

Samuel Jordan, a fourth grader at St. Anne Catholic School, drew chuckles from a ballroom-full of guests when he posed this question at UST’s 68th annual Mardi Gras Scholarship Gala, held Feb. 10 at the Hilton Americas-Houston. The event, attended by more than 500 guests, paid tribute to the Basilian Fathers for their extraordinary 118-year legacy of education in Houston.

The 2018 Gala, themed “Light the Way,” treated guests to an entertaining and inspiring program, which showcased the talents of students from UST, St. Thomas High School and St. Anne Catholic School, Houston’s great trinity of Basilian teaching institutions. Guests enjoyed dinner, a live band and a live auction. The event garnered more than $800,000 in much-needed scholarship support for University of St. Thomas students.

The Mardi Gras Gala (originally the Mardi Gras Ball) has a long and illustrious history at UST. It was launched in 1950 by Fr. Robert Miller, CSB. Early celebrations were large, community-wide events held at the Sam Houston Coliseum—then, Houston’s premier venue for events, concerts and performances. Festivities included parades, games, coronation of a queen, dancing and costume contests. Celebrity guests of the time often attended and served as Honorary Kings and Queens, including Bob Hope, Pat O’Brien and Arlene Dahl.

Mardi Gras at UST is a time honored tradition dating back to the beginning of our university.


  • A Mardi Gras Dance was held in the Link-Lee Ballroom (3rd floor of Link-Lee)
  • Charles Fischer ’52 was Mardi Gras King (Husband of Betty Fischer ’52).


  • The first Mardi Gras Extravaganza was held at the Sam Houston Coliseum.
  • 15,000 attendees


  • During his presidency, Fr. Vincent Guinan’s connections to Hollywood provided an added benefit to the UST Mardi Gras celebration:
    • A UST student was crowned Queen, but Hollywood star Pat O’Brien was King.
    • Honorary Queen was actress Ann Blyth.
    • Bob Hope was Hollywood King.
  • Additions such as these brought the name of UST into prominence. Newspaper articles and community leaders assisted in promoting the event.
  • Mardi Gras was a student-driven celebration.

The Mardi Gras Gala is the University’s largest fundraising event, with all proceeds benefiting student scholarships through The St. Thomas Fund. Planning for the next Gala, scheduled for Saturday, March 2, 2019, is already underway. For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact:

Office of Institutional Advancement

About the Author — UST Staff

AvatarThe UST staff strives to bring the most interesting, relevant and topical stories to our audience with each issue. These stories feature current UST students, alumni, professors, staff members and people we work with through our many partnerships. We hope you enjoy this glimpse of the UST community.

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