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March 27, 2023

AHA to Recognize Steadfast Supporters as ‘Angelic Evening’ Turns 25

Angelic Evening is turning 25 this year, and the Academy of the Holy Angels is ready to pull out all the stops! This signature celebration of AHA’s steadfast supporters is set for May 11, 2023, and will be held at the Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, New Jersey. Guests will enjoy a cocktail hour, sit down dinner, dancing to a live band, and opportunities to win fabulous prizes. The highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the Distinguished Alumna Award to Geraldine Wacker (AHA ‘88). This year’s Legacy Award will honor The Mario & Theresa Spola Family Foundation.


Proceeds from the “Silver Edition” of Angelic Evening will be dedicated to the comprehensive renovations to AHA’s auditorium and music wing. This section of the school is original to the building, which was constructed in 1965. Updates will benefit the entire AHA community, as the auditorium is a focal point for gatherings that include Open House programs, liturgies, assemblies, concerts, plays, honor society inductions, talent shows, and more. Contact for Angelic Evening tickets and information.


Geraldine Wacker is slated to receive the Distinguished Alumna Award for her extraordinary loyalty, commitment, dedication, and service to the advancement of Holy Angels.


“This is an exciting, unexpected, and amazing surprise,” Wacker said of her upcoming honor. “I had a great time at Holy Angels. As the years go on, you appreciate your experiences more.”


Wacker expressed her gratitude for her parents, who started life in Ireland and emigrated to the USA, where they worked diligently to provide opportunities for each of their children.


“My parents took me to an Open House at AHA and that was it,” Wacker said, describing the feeling she had that she had found her home away from home.


Wacker was the first in her family to attend AHA. Others, including nieces and cousins, followed in her footsteps. Her three daughters all chose Holy Angels, too!


After her graduation from Holy Angels, Wacker studied finance and organizational management at Nyack College. She is now an award-winning Realtor with Keller Williams Valley Realty and a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors, where she promotes women leaders. She previously worked as an accounting manager, an accounting analyst, and a procurement analyst. 


Since 2015, Wacker has served on various Academy of the Holy Angels committees, including the President’s Council, Alumnae Association, Angelic Evening, and the AHA Fashion Show. Wacker, an AHA Dance Team parent, was also the dance team/spirit wear coordinator.


This active member of her community is a long-time volunteer with the Saint Joseph School Parent Teacher Organization. She was involved with fundraising for 14 years, and helped accrue nearly $1 million during her years as committee chair. Her 12 years of service to the school board included time spent as secretary, fundraising representative, and PTO representative. Wacker was also a member of the Saint John the Baptist School Fundraising Committee.


The Mario & Theresa Spola Family Foundation will receive the Legacy Award in honor of the organization’s contributions that reflect the charism of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and make a lasting impact on the Academy and the people it serves.


AHA President Melinda Hanlon noted the family’s deep commitment to Catholic education and ongoing loyalty to Holy Angels, including the new middle school.




Noreen Best, a long-time Angelic Evening volunteer, recalled the early days of the gala. For the first few years, Angelic Evening was held on the Demarest campus as a general fundraiser. Volunteers invested hours transforming the gym into a posh spot for dining and dancing.


Best spent eight years organizing this event, beginning in 2000. She got involved at the request of S. Claire Bonneau, SSND, who was then president of AHA.


“When a nun asks you, you can’t say no,” Best quipped.


At first, Best and her team were concerned that there wouldn’t be enough gifts for the auction. After a few weeks, they realized they had plenty. She and her crew stored the donations on the second floor of what is now Sister Genevieve Kelleher Hall, where the group spent long hours working. Many jobs that have been facilitated by technology still had to be completed by hand. Over time, Angelic Evening was moved off site to locations that included the Rockleigh Country Club, the Stony Hill Inn, and The Palisadium.


The driving force behind the gala is currently AHA Assistant Director of Advancement – Events Barbara Burklund (AHA ’77).


While the event location and other details have changed over time, Best notes that many person hours are still devoted to the celebration each year.


“People ended up taking time off from work to help,” Best said, marveling at “how willing people were to get it all done.” She added that the reward was not only a job well done for the Academy, but the unmatched camaraderie that developed among Angelic Evening volunteers.