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A participant in the 13th annual Slice of Heaven Golf Tournament, cosponsored by the Marian Fathers and the Catholic Youth Center of Pittsfield, Mass., tees off on the fifth hole of the Stockbridge Golf Course.

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By Dan Valenti (Sep 30, 2009)
No matter how you slice it, it was a day sent from heaven.

The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, in conjunction with the Catholic Youth Center (CYC) of Pittsfield, Mass., sponsored the 13th annual Slice of Heaven Golf Tournament Sept. 21 on a cloudless, 72-degree day at the nationally renowned Stockbridge Country Club. It was the tournament's first time at the Stockbridge course, located about two long par-5s from Eden Hill, home of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy and home of the Marian Fathers.

Through the generosity of sponsors and golfers, the tournament raised approximately $36,000 that the two organizations will split. The CYC will use the funds to continue with programs for Pittsfield youngsters. The Marians will use their share to support the education of young men studying for the priesthood.

A Team Effort
Many employees from Eden Hill worked for months behind the scenes and at the golf course on Sept. 21 to ensure a fun, safe, and profitable event.

"The Marians were delighted to again sponsor this event," said Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC, Provincial Superior of the Marians. "It fits in so well with our Congregation's mission to be of service to God and His Church. A large part of that mission is community service. The money raised today will help the CYC provide wholesome recreation and education to many local youngsters as well as assist [the Marians] in educating our seminarians."

The day featured more than 70 golfers playing a beautiful course under ideal conditions. It was a day heaven-sent for fun, friendship — and an occasional Mulligan or two.

After the tournament, golfers convened to the clubhouse for a social hour and to participate in a silent auction to bid on items such as golf lessons and tickets to see the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park, a raffle for a MacBook Pro laptop computer, and a 50-50 raffle.

At 6 p.m., participants enjoyed a buffet dinner of chicken, shrimp, steak, vegetables, salad, and bread. After the meal, Edward Miller — who co-chaired the tournament with Christopher McLaughlin of the CYC — thanked the golfers and sponsors who made the day a success. He said it was the most profitable in tournament history.

In Tribute to Frank Manafort
Father Dan then offered a tribute to Frank Manafort Jr., tournament honoree. Father Dan called Frank "a dear friend and supporter of the Marian Fathers for 20 years." Manafort Brothers, one of New England's largest site-development contractors, was founded in 1911 and is now run by the fourth generation of Manaforts.

Frank and his wife Liz have created many memorials on Eden Hill in honor of their loved ones. In the course of doing this, Frank gradually got interested in projects that would ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims. For instance, Frank's company helped the Oblate Sisters of the Most Holy Eucharist build a chapel for their convent on Eden Hill. The completed chapel is dedicated to his mother, Ida. Frank also helped the Marians renovate the confessionals at the Shrine with improved ventilation and new carved doors.

In the mid-1990s, Frank accepted a position on the advisory board of the Marian Fathers, donating his business and construction expertise to the cause of Divine Mercy. He provided the Marians with project managers for an extensive fire-safety project and for the recently built Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine.

Local Charities Receive Help
"The Slice of Heaven brings together the Berkshire County community for the benefit of the youth of Pittsfield and the training of the nearly-30 young Marians studying for the priesthood in the U.S.," said Edward Miller. He said that over the years, the tournament has raised more than $200,000 for local charities.

The Catholic Youth Center on Melville Street advances the moral, intellectual, social, and recreational interests of Pittsfield youth. It provides a safe environment and an array of activities for children.

The Marian Fathers are a worldwide congregation or more than 500 priests and brothers located in 19 countries. There are more than 100 young men in formation for the priesthood within the congregation, 29 in America.

If you wish to help the Marians educate the priests of tomorrow, please visit our "Ways of Helping" web page.

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