Salesianum School announced it has received the largest gift ever to a Delaware private school today, a $16 million donation from graduate Rocco A. Abessinio.
The funds will be used to build a new facility at the site of Baynard Stadium, the longtime home of Salesianum football and a location used by schools across the region and the city of Wilmington.
Salesianum recently entered into a long-term lease agreement with the city, where use of the stadium will be a shared community resource, but the proposal hinged on raising sufficient resources to modernize the decrepit field, bleachers and locker rooms. Now those finances are in place.
“We are eager to get started and confident the entire school community shares our joy in this announcement and joins us in thanking the Abessinios for their continued leadership,” said Brendan P. Kennealey, Salesianum president.
Salesianum says the extraordinary amount is among the three most significant grants ever made to a Catholic secondary school in the United States.
Abessinio, a 1959 graduate, is a banking and consumer lending executive and along with his wife and family foundation, has been a significant financial supporter of the school.
The new stadium will be named in Mr. Abessinio’s honor. Kennealey said planners were hopeful that demolition of Baynard Stadium can begin in early summer 2019, with Abessinio Stadium completed in time for the football season of 2020.
“We are grateful for Rocco and Mary Frances’s unprecedented investment in our mission and doing so with an understanding that the dividends will be shared by everyone in our community for years to come,” said Kennealey.