Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Winning the lottery twice

As many of you know, we are in the midst of a fundraising campaign here at the Newman Center. The students, Meg Miller (campus minister), and I have been working very hard to raise money for next year’s programs, especially FOCUS. The students have really gotten into it, not just into the work but in the spirit of it all. On this point, one of our students emailed me a story about a GW Catholic alumnus who recently won the California State Lottery. He sent it to me probably more playfully than anything else. Whatever his motivations were, I am glad that he did because the following is one inspiring story that is only starting.

The headline of this GW online story says it all: “Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros plan to use their lottery winnings to give back to the community and church.” Then, you read that Gilbert won the spiritual lottery by becoming fully Catholic six years ago. He says that “religion is very important to me” and he has a great love for the Mass. What great stuff to read in the secular media! I’m very confident that the Cisneros will use the money wisely (they want to put it toward the education of others), but they are already bearing great fruit through their words. They have evangelized millions of people in a very fruitful way! This is always welcome, but even more necessary in this day and age.

The Cisneros’ humility and joy were on display on the “Today Show” recently; to see the clip, please click on today’s title. In it we learn that Jacki hasn’t stopped working and one of the first things Gilbert did after hearing that he was a multi-millionaire is go to Church to thank God. What great stuff! God has brought this about for a reason and one of them is the extraordinary example that Gilbert and Jacki are setting. It is an example that faith and charity are the most important things in life. Gilbert and Jacki see this and they will be guided by faith and love through this process. Please pray that they will remain grounded in both. If they do, this will something beautiful and epic! Here are some excerpts from the GW website:

Alumnus Wins $266 Million

Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros plan to use their lottery winnings to give back to the community and church.

May 10, 2010
By Menachem Wecker

On May 4, Jacki Cisneros woke her husband Gilbert, B.A. ’94, up and asked him if he had bought a lottery ticket at the L & L Hawaiian BBQ where he had eaten dinner the previous night. Sure enough, the numbers on one of the tickets Gil bought matched the California State Lottery’s winning numbers. The couple was $266 million richer.

“My first thought was just sign the ticket and make copies then put it somewhere safe,” says Mr. Cisneros, who lives in Pico Rivera, Calif., and recently lost his job. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I think once I take a look at my new portfolio, then it will hit me.”

In a segment on NBC’s TODAY show, Matt Lauer said the good fortune could not have found a nicer couple. In the interview, Mr. Cisneros said the couple plans on giving back to their church and their alma maters.

“Religion has become very important to me,” says Mr. Cisneros. “Six years ago I made my first communion and confirmation, and ever since then I have attended church on a regular basis.”

Mr. and Mrs. Cisneros were married in 2005 at the Vatican, and Mr. Cisneros says he believes making sacraments later in life has strengthened his commitment and given him a better understanding of the rituals of Mass.
As a student at GW, Mr. Cisneros majored in political science and was in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program.

“I have great memories from GW! I loved my time there,” he says. “When I recall some of the best experiences I have had, most are from my time at GW.”…

Basking in a national spotlight does not come naturally to Mr. Cisneros. “I went kicking and screaming,” he says. “I would have preferred to have stayed anonymous, but my wife, who works in television news, went with her natural instincts and started chasing the story even though we were the story!”

Before he knew it, the one interview he had agreed to turned into eight, with requests pouring in from around the country. “It is just so surreal to think that all these people want to speak with us,” he says.

Mr. Cisneros says he and his wife have been discussing what to do with the money. “We are happy that this will give us an opportunity to travel more,” he says.

“But more importantly, we are excited we will be able to set up a foundation that will allow us to give back. We want to be able to give people a chance to go to college. My wife and I strongly believe education is the way to a successful future, so it is going to be our focus.”


Matt Shoemaker said...

Hey Father,

Great article. I thought that couple is super inspiring how they value their faith so much even as God has given them everything they could need materially. They're a fantastic example to us GW Catholics about giving back to the Church and always being there to take care of her.
Thanks for the post, Father! Keep it up!

Menachem Wecker said...

Thanks for posting my story and for your kind words!

--Menachem Wecker

Jesus&MamaMaryWeLoveYou said...

Fr. John Corapi who became our keynote speaker on 2004, 2005 & 2006 World Apostolate of Fatima Los Angeles Conferences, said, "Life on earth is just like a blink of an eye". The Cisneros have chosen the right decision what to do with their lottery winnings. Charity covers a multitude of sins and if they maintain being always on a state of grace, they will inherit a priceless gift from God, eternal life! Yes, we only live once, make the most out of it by being compassionate and generous to our fellow human being.