Education endowment established in monsignor’s name aims to help ‘God’s kids’

Owen Cruceta, along with his classmates in MaryJo DiMento's third grade class at Holy Cross School in DeWitt, presents Msgr. J. Robert Yeazel with a donation of $51.18 for the Cathedral Restoration Fund Nov. 28, 2016. (Photo courtesy Martha O'Leary)

By Katherine Long, Editor

For more than 50 years, Msgr. J. Robert Yeazel has offered dedicated service to the people of the Diocese of Syracuse. Thanks to an education endowment established in his honor, he’ll continue to serve them for many more years to come.

The Yeazel Catholic Education Endowment Fund was created at the Central New York Community Foundation last year as a way to honor Msgr. Yeazel as he prepared to celebrate 50 years of priesthood and to retire as pastor of Holy Cross Church in DeWitt. The monsignor did not want a party or gifts for himself, said longtime parishioner and Fund officer John Drescher, but the parish community wanted to honor him “in some way, so that the generations to follow will have an idea what he’s done for the diocese in 50 years.” Msgr. Yeazel’s half-century of priesthood includes pastoral service in Binghamton, Syracuse, Fayetteville, Jamesville, and DeWit, and diocesan administration as vicar general, chancellor, and vicar for priests.

The community and its pastor ultimately agreed on establishing an endowment to provide tuition assistance for students at Catholic schools in the diocese’s Western Region. A graduate of Catholic schools himself, Msgr. Yeazel said he’s “always believed in Catholic education.” And this fund is not the first means of support he’s offered Catholic school students. During his time as pastor of Holy Cross and of Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville, Msgr. Yeazel recalled, he ran a successful program encouraging parishioners to “adopt” a student at the parish school and fund all or part of the student’s tuition.

Since establishing the endowment fund, 258 individuals have donated or pledged more than $1 million, Drescher said. The officers hope to start distributing funds this coming fall and they are currently working with the diocesan Catholic Schools Office to determine how to help the kids most in need, Drescher noted.

“It’s very humbling, extremely humbling,” Msgr. Yeazel said of the generosity shown to “God’s kids” in his name. “I’m just happy that maybe I can be a vehicle of the answer to some prayers of families and kids that would like to have a Catholic education and to come closer to the Lord.”

To learn more about or donate to the Yeazel Catholic Education Endowment Fund, visit the Central New York Community Foundation website at

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