St Nicholas Institute, Santa School Michigan, Santa Claus Training, Santa Claus School

"Where the North American St. Nicholas Revolution Began"







2014 Award Winners

2014 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, Tom Monaghan, Founder, Domino's Pizza
Tom Monaghan 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award

Thomas S. Monaghan, although best known as the founder of Domino’s Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise, is currently devoting his attention full time to non-profit endeavors, specifically focused on underwriting Catholic higher education. This support primarily flows through the Ave Maria Foundation, which he founded in 1983 and for which he serves as chairman of the board.           

 In 1998, Monaghan provided the impetus for a major initiative in Catholic higher education with the founding of Ave Maria Institute in Ypsilanti, Michigan (which later became Ave Maria College), a Catholic liberal arts institution designed to prepare students for leadership in academics, professional occupations, and service to the greater community. 

Ave Maria College was the predecessor to Ave Maria University, which was founded in 2003 and which operated in an interim facilities in Naples, FL until its permanent facilities were completed in the 2007.  The university’s permanent campus is located in Ave Maria, Florida, which is just northeast of Naples.  Monaghan serves as the university’s chancellor.

 In addition to supporting the university, the Ave Maria Foundation provided the initial funding for Ave Maria School of Law, which was founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but relocated to Naples, Florida in 2009 (for which Monaghan serves as chairman of the board of governors).  The Foundation also helped establish the Thomas More Law Center, a public-interest law firm that provides legal counsel to organizations and individuals whose religious and other freedoms are threatened.

In 1987, Monaghan founded Legatus (Latin for “ambassador”), an international organization of Catholic CEO’s and presidents committed to studying, living and spreading their faith through their professional and personal lives. Then-Domino’s CEO, Tom Monaghan and his wife, Marjorie, met Pope John Paul II on May 7, 1987 (pictured, above). This meeting inspired Monaghan to found Legatus.

Tom was born in Ann Arbor in 1937.  His father died four years later, ushering in a childhood spent largely in an orphanage and a succession of foster homes.  After graduating from Ann Arbor’s St. Thomas High School in 1955, and enrolling at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI, Monaghan enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1956.  Honorably discharged three years later, he returned to Ann Arbor, where he enrolled at the University of Michigan.

While still a student, Monaghan founded Domino’s Pizza.  He and his brother, James, borrowed $900 to buy a small pizza store called DomiNick’s in Ypsilanti.  He later bought his brother’s share of the business, and opened additional stores in Ann Arbor and Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.  By 1998, Domino’s had 6,250 stores, and ranked as the world’s largest pizza delivery chain, pioneering a number of industry innovations inspired by Monaghan.

Pizza TossPizza Tiger

The story behind Domino’s Pizza (including the many obstacles and setbacks Monaghan overcame and the path he took to success) was compiled for the first time in his 1986 autobiography, Pizza Tiger, published by Random House.  He sold Domino’s Pizza in 1998 to Bain Capital, Inc., leaving behind its day-to-day operations, which he had overseen for 38 years.

Monaghan has received honorary degrees from twelve universities around the country, and in March of 2000, he was named an Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College within Britain’s University of Cambridge.

Monaghan and his wife, Marjorie, have four daughters, ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild.  

Spirit Of Christmases Past, Present & Future Award
Maureen O’Hara  = "Miracle on 34th Street"

Spirit Of Christmases Past, Present & Future Award Maureen O'Hara

Maureen O’Hara first captured the public’s eye in her breakout role as the dancing gypsy, Esmeralda, in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She has held our attention ever since. Known for playing feisty heroines, O'Hara's famously flame-red hair lit up the screen like no other star from Hollywood’s golden age. In a career that has spanned over seventy-five years, she has starred in over sixty motion pictures including such critically acclaimed classics as Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man, and How Green Was My Valley. She is widely recognized as Ireland's most renowned and celebrated actress.

 Born Maureen FitzSimons on August 17, 1920 in Ranelagh, Ireland, O’Hara began acting at age five with her own shadow. She studied at the Ena Mary Burke School of Elocution and Drama and by age ten had joined the Rathmines Theatre Company working in amateur productions. She was soon hired by Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) to perform classic plays over the radio reaching nearly every household in Ireland.

 As a teenager, Maureen FitzSimons joined the famed Abbey Theatre and worked nights typing tags at a local laundry. She was offered a leading role with the Abbey Players at age seventeen but chose instead to take a motion picture screen test in London at the request of Elstree Studios. Her screen test caught the attention of Oscar-winning actor and producer Charles Laughton, who quickly signed her to a seven-year contract. Laughton launched his new protégé’s film career by casting her as his niece, Mary Yellan, in Alfred Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn (1939) and by changing her screen name to Maureen O’Hara.

 Maureen O’Hara first arrived in Hollywood in 1939 to make her American film debut (opposite Laughton’s Quasimodo) in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She was unable to return to Ireland with the outbreak of World War II and became part of Hollywood’s studio system when her contract was sold to RKO Pictures. In 1941, O'Hara achieved critical acclaim for her haunting portrayal of Angharad in the Welsh family saga How Green Was My Valley, which marked her first collaboration with legendary director John Ford. The film went on to win five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.

 During the 1940s and 1950s, O'Hara was often cast in lavish Technicolor movies. Her fiery characters and striking features earned her the nickname "Queen of Technicolor." O’Hara is also the first female action star, having performed many of her own stunts and sword fighting sequences in swashbuckling pictures. The most notable include The Black Swan with Tyrone Power, Sinbad the Sailor with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and At Sword’s Point with Cornel Wilde. In 1947, O'Hara appeared in the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street, playing a single mother whose sensibilities are challenged by Santa Claus. 

(B&W) Maureen O’Hara / Edmund Gwenn (MOVIE STILL)

This period in O’Hara’s career is also highlighted by her frequent work with John Ford and John Wayne. Her screen chemistry with Wayne was dynamic and she served as “the Duke’s leading lady” in a series of Ford films including Rio Grande, The Wings of Eagles, and her personal favorite, The Quiet Man.

 O'Hara turned to lighter roles in the 1960s appearing in family comedies such as The Parent Trap, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, McLintock!, and Spencer’s Mountain. In 1971, she reunited with John Wayne a final time in the western comedy Big Jake, before retiring to operate a Caribbean commuter airline with her husband, aviator Charles F. Blair. Upon Blair’s tragic death in a plane crash, O’Hara became the first woman in United States history to head a scheduled commercial airline. 

Maureen O’Hara: Tis Herself Book Cover

In 1991, following a 20-year hiatus, O'Hara returned to the silver screen to play John Candy's overbearing Irish mother in the bittersweet comedy Only the Lonely. She later starred in a string of television movies and published her bestselling memoir, Tis Herself, in 2004.

The motion picture academy announced on Thursday, August 8, 2014 that actress, Maureen O'Hara, will receive an honorary Oscar on November 8, 2014 in the Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. 

2014 Spirit Of St. Nicholas Award Winners
Padre Gerardo Cioffari – Paul W. Smith – Joe Kocur – Ron Mann – Chris Baker – Debra Bonde

Spirit of St. Nicholas Award

Nicholas as Our Model – Padre Gerardo Cioffari – Director, Centro Studi Nicolini, Bari, Italia

San Nicola Di BariPadre Gerardo CioffariSan Nicola Di Bari

Reverend Father Gerardo Cioffari was born in Calitri, Italy on December 1, 1943. Following his primary education, he joined the Dominican Order in Naples, Italy. In 1970, the friar was ordained a Dominican priest. Shortly thereafter, he received his Master of Divinity Degree from St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary, Crestwood, New York (1973). He attained his Doctorate in Ecclesiastical Oriental Studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome (1977). Padre Cioffari has distinguished himself globally as highly respected scholar historian, and is the Director of the Center for Studies Nicolaiani. His important personal responsibilities include the care of the Archive and Library of the Basilica of S. Nicola, Bari, Italy.

In 1990, the Dominican first published a magazine, Nicholas Historical Studies.

For more than 3 decades, Fr. Gerardo Cioffari’s diligent work and scholarship have contributed enormously to attaining a more historically accurate understanding of the real-life person of St. Nicholas.  In consequence, he is recognized globally as a quintessential expert on the beloved 4th century bishop and Patron Saint of Children.

The following titles (primarily available only in Italian) represent but a small sampling of Padre Gerardo’s invaluable printed work:

La Leggenda di Kiev: La Traslazione Delle Reliquie di S. Nicola (The Legend of Kiev: The Translation of the Relics of St. Nicholas,1980)

S. Nicola Nella Critical StoriaL'abate Elia

S.Nicola Nella Critica Storica (St. Nicholas in Historical Criticism, 1987)

San Nicola: Leggende e Cronache Russe (Saint Nicholas: Legends and Russian Chronicles, 1986)

S. Nicola Nella Critica Storica (St. Nicholas in Historical Criticism, 1987)

San Nicola di Bari (Saint Nicholas of Bari, 1988)

Saint Nicholas. His Life, the Translation of His Relics and His Basilica in Bari (English language edition, 1994)

Saint Nicholas: Documentary Evidence in Literature and Archeology : Historical Criticism on His Identity (English language edition, 1997)

San Nicola di Bari (Saint Nicholas of Bari, 1997 editon)

Saint Nicholas: His Life, Miracles and Legends (English language edition 2008)

L'abate Elia. Il benedettino che costruì la basilica di San Nicola (Abbot Elijah. The Benedictine Monk who Built the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, 2012)

Openness to the Christmas Spirit – Paul W. Smith, Paul W. Smith Golf Classic (Benefiting P.A.L.)

Paul W. Smith

Paul W. Smith was 15 years old when he started his radio career in 1968 at WVMO/Monroe, Michigan. In the 1970s, he divided his time between college and WSPD/Toledo and later returned to the station for nearly a decade as a salesman and afternoon drive host. A successful turn as a television morning show host led to Smith's first morning drive show on CWA/Toledo.

 In 1984, Smith moved to morning drive and to CKLW/Windsor, Ontario for a year before moving to WJR/Detroit as a weekend host. Within a year, Smith had added a weekday show at WABC/New York to his duties, later moving (and commuting) to WMCA/New York while still hosting weekends at WJR.

 In 1990, Smith was hosting a noon interview show at WJR while also working mornings (via satellite) at WWDB-FM/Philadelphia. With the 1996 passing of longtime WJR morning host J.P. McCarthy, Smith began a lengthy run as the station's morning host. Smith also co-hosts Destination 313, a weekly interview show devoted to Detroit events and entrepreneurs.

Through the annual Paul W. Smith Golf Classic , Smith has raised over $4,500,000 for the Detroit Police Athletic League.  Detroit PAL is a private, nonprofit organization that is working to make Detroit a great place to be a kid and raise a family. In partnership with the Detroit Police Department and community volunteers, Detroit PAL builds character in young people through athletic, academic, and leadership development programs.

Detroit PAL is a non-profit organization positively impacting the lives of more than 11,000 children each year through athletic, academic and leadership development programs. Formed through a merger of Think Detroit and the Detroit Police Athletic League in 2006, Detroit PAL has roots dating back to 1970.

Paul W. Smith was formally inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2013.

 In addition to Detroit PAL, Paul has dedicated time on his radio show and acted as an emcee for notable charitable causes for the American Cancer Society's Cattle Baron's Ball, Karmanos Cancer Institute, the Salvation Army's Bed & Bread Program, March of Dimes March for Babies, The Parade Company and Detroit Goodfellows.

Exercising Compassion – Joe Kocur – Ron Mann – Chris Baker
Co-Founders, Joe Kocur Foundation For Children

Joe Kocur Foundation For Children

Gathered around the warm glow of a campfire in 2009, ex-Detroit Red Wing, Joe Kocur along with close friends, Ron Mann and Chris Baker became inspired to assist needy families and local charities. The dream the three men envisioned became a reality when they eventually co-founded what is today known as the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children. The Foundation’s aim is to create family-friendly events while, at the same time, bringing together a variety of like-minded people from the local community who share the same spirit of giving.

Since its formation, their non-profit organization has assisted local charities who seek to offer assistance to families in need. As a result, the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children has proudly supported the efforts of a number of charitable organizations, who include: The Wings of Mercy, Team Kendal Kidz, Orchard Children’s Service, FAR Conservatory, The Huron Valley Special Olympics, The Thin Blue Line, The Shannon Gaber-Silverthorn Scholarship and other charities.

In addition to helping local charities, the Foundation has likewise aided families who have endured profound tragedies. For example, in December, 2012 a Benefit was held for the family of Officer Patrick O’Rourke, a West Bloomfield Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty. Due to a tremendous outpouring of community love, support, and generosity, the Foundation held special hockey fund-raiser at Compuware Arena. The hockey game that featured seven NHL Hall of Famers became a sell out; thereby raising more than $150,000.00 for the O’Rourke Family. A true “miracle on ice.”

Since its inception in 2009, the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children has raised over $500k through generosity of its sponsors and faithful supporters.

Joe Kocur, Co-Founder, Joe Kocur Foundation for Children

Joe Kocur

Hockey fans will remember "Joey" from hismemorable Detroit Red Wings days when he and close friend, Bob Probert, formed a gritty duo lauded as the "Bruise Brothers." Scrappy NHL rival, Donald Brashear, attests that Kocur actually punched cracks into his helmet during one particularly memorable physical altercation. Distinguishing himself as one of the most penalized players inNHL history, he spent 2,519 penalty minutes in the “sin bin.”

Although he is widely remembered for his rough-and-tumble style of play, die hard Red Wings fans will recall that Kocur contributed crucially important goals in both 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup finals series. On both occasions, Joe along with other members of the  “Winged-Wheelers” subsequently hoisted the coveted Stanley Cup.

With the creation of the Foundation that now bears his name, Joe Kocur (never considered a Lady Byng Trophy contender during his NHL career) is happy to reveal his softer side. For, as the former “Bruise Brother” once reflected: “For me, the most rewarding part of our [Foundation] events is our ability to give back to our local charities and, at the same time, seeing the smiling faces of the families we’ve helped.”

Ron Mann, Co-Founder, Joe Kocur Foundation for Children

Ron Mann

Ron Mann founded Mann Made Resources (MMR) in 2008 and is the President and CEO.  MMR evolved from Mann’s long history and experience in wireless construction and provides professional services to the telecommunications industries.

For more than 15 years Mann has served his industry and community through close relationships, personal service and expertise.  Ron and his wife Maureen believe in a strong connection and commitment to investing back in to the community.  As a founding member of the Joe Kocur foundation for children, over half a million dollars has been provided to the community and families in need.

Mann has 2 children.  He enjoys boating, skiing, all outdoor activities and demonstrates a great love for all people

 Chris Baker,Co-Founder, Joe Kocur Foundation for Children

Chris Baker

Chris Baker owns and operates three successful restaurants:  Bakers of Milford, South Lyon Hotel and Highland's Comeback Inn.

His generosity in the community earned him the honor of Citizen of the Year in 2011 awarded by The Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce for the communities of Milford, Highland and White Lake.

He has served on the Board of Directors of the Carls Family YMCA for 6 years and as Chair of the Leadership Committee.

He is the current president of the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce and a respected spokesman for the business and not-for-profit organizations in the community.

Chris participates in several community fundraising activities and is eager to assist the development of the youth through career development and coordinated activities in both the Huron Valley School District and South Lyon School District.

Chris is a co-founding member of The Joe Kocur Foundation for Children.

Love for Children – Debra Bonde, Founder/Executive Director, Seedlings Braille Books for Children

Debra BondeDebra Bonde, Seedlings, Celebrating 30 Years

In 1984, Debra Bonde quickly learned that Braille materials were scarce and expensive. It was then that she set two goals: increase the availability while lowering the cost of Braille books; and promote literacy skills by enhancing a love of reading for visually impaired children. In 1985, the first year of book production, Debra made 221 books in her basement office. By 1990, Seedlings was producing 5,000 books per year and in 2013, Seedlings produced nearly 24,000 Braille books. This growth made it necessary to move from Debra’s home office to the Bentley Center in Livonia, Michigan, and eventually to its present location on Farmington Road in Livonia. To date, Seedlings has produced over 400,000 Braille books and articles, equaling over 18 million pages of Braille.

Seedlings’ Braille materials have opened up new worlds for thousands of children. By reaching Braille readers in all 50 states and 75 different countries around the globe, Seedlings is able to ensure that visually impaired children have access to many of the same good books that their sighted peers enjoy. Seedlings produces both classic literature and contemporary novels and by doing so, promotes Braille literacy. At this time, less than 20% of the 50,000 blind children in the United States are proficient in Braille. All too often, the written word has been inaccessible to these children, and this is what she is hoping to change.

Reading Braile image

Braille books are provided at each level of development, from toddler board books to classic literature for older children. Just as sighted children learn to “read” as they are exposed to the printed word, so do visually impaired children who are exposed to the tactile page at an early age.

As a non-profit organization, Seedlings sells its books for considerably less than it costs to make them. Support is very broad based and comes from individuals, philanthropic groups, corporations and private foundations. Seedlings is not a United Way agency and does not receive any government grants. Thanks to hundreds of generous donors and dedicated volunteers, the price of Seedlings books remains far below actual production costs, averaging only $10 per book. 

2014 marks the 30th anniversary of Seedlings’ commitment to producing high-quality, low-cost Braille books and it expects to produce over 25,000 books this year. The staff and volunteers work diligently to continue to offer Braille books at the same cost today as when it first began in Debra’s basement office. Thousands of visually impaired children now know the thrill of being transported to a different place through reading the printed word.

The 4 Core Values forms the acronym:N-O-E-L”.

Living these St. Nicholas Institute values says: Christmas!








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