Shamrock Philanthropist Makes Lasting Impact Here and In Africa
A few years ago, Liberia, West Africa would have been one of the last places that Shamrock alumnus Wayne Suerth ‘63 would have considered making a major impact. But at a Stewardship Meeting in San Diego in 2016, the young (age 35) pastor of a Liberian parish – St. Gabriel’s of the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia – started Wayne on a series of benevolent acts that has helped transform the poor and remote African parish.
While St. Gabriel’s pastor, Fr. Paul Folleh, was visiting California, he and Wayne met, and Wayne learned of the great needs of that parish and the country of Liberia. Fr. Paul, told Wayne about the 620,000 people who died during the country’s civil war that ended in 2003, that priests were killed, and that the parish was looted by rebel soldiers. Later, the ebola virus outbreak of 2014-2015 took the lives of many parishioners, with the parish inheriting many orphans. Today, electricity, running water, good health care, educational systems and employment are scarce, poverty is everywhere and the needs great.
Recognizing the need, Wayne, with the grace of God, came to the rescue of Fr. Paul and St. Gabriel’s. First, recognizing that Fr. Paul was in need of transportation to visit members of his parish and those in nearby parishes whom he was also serving. Wayne and friends financed the purchase of a Yamaha motorbike for Fr. Paul.
Second, an even greater need for the parish was a new multi-purpose hall to provide a health care center, catechesis for adults and children, pastoral formation programs and a feeding station for orphans, his school children and other children in need. Wayne, along with other benefactors, contributed himself, and raised from other donors throughout parishes in Southern California, several hundred thousand dollars for the new hall. Wayne and his wife Monica then had the opportunity in early 2020 to visit Liberia and St. Gabriel’s for the dedication of the now-completed new hall with Fr. Paul.
Helping to fund endeavors for Catholic operations is nothing new for Wayne. Wayne has been a long-time benefactor of St. Pat’s. He has been a generous donor to the school’s annual fund and the current capital campaign. He is a member of the Saint Patrick Heritage Society by virtue of his including St. Pat’s in his estate plan. He spear-headed the raising of $100,000 for the St. Pat’s Class of 1963 on their 50th Anniversary Endowment to provide scholarships for students in need of tuition assistance. For several years he has also served as a volunteer judge for the school’s Incubator Entrepreneurship Program’s annual “Final Pitch Night,” even flying in from California to partake in the night’s events.
Now retired, and a former CFO, Wayne credits St. Pat’s with positively shaping his life saying “In my four years at St. Pat’s, I received an immeasurable foundation of learning. The experience was certainly not limited to academics, but more in the personal development I derived by being associated with the Christian Brothers, lay teachers, coaches, and fellow students and friends. The experience served me well in my career and personal life since leaving St. Pat’s.”