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Baseball, Bishops and the Blue Whale - Avenue Magazine

On Monday, April 9, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese New York hosted its annual gala, raising over $2.1 million for the organization’s initiatives. The event was held at the American Museum of Natural History and honored Gregory B. Braca, President and CEO of TD Bank; and Robert D. Manfred Jr., the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

“Everywhere I go, I hear two things. Number 1—thanks for all the work that Catholic Charities has done. Number 2—but we need you to do more in these areas,” said Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York. “It’s almost as though Catholic Charities is so effective, so respected that people know when you want to get something done, you go to Catholic Charities.” Founded 101 years ago, Catholic Charities “does all of the traditional [charity work] that they’ve done forever—[helping with] housing, the homeless, the hungry, clothes, immigration, orphans, unwed mothers—but they also help with new things that come up.” Among the timely initiatives is working with people impacted by the opioid crisis, particularly on Staten Island.  

Though Catholic Charities receives subsidies and grants from the government, “those funds only cover so much,” continued Cardinal Dolan. “And there’s certain things that the government won’t fund, so we need this type of evening.”

The event began with a cocktail hour in the main atrium of the museum, and continued with a seated dinner under the iconic blue whale. Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of New York gave the opening address, recognizing 101 years of Catholic Charities. “I have used “Centennial +1” for tonight’s gala to focus us on the future,” he said. “As Catholic Charities begins our next century, we cannot ignore the threats that the current environment of harsh rhetoric and rash policies, from multiple places, poses for us…[but] will not shrink from the demanding duty of harnessing the innate goodness within each of us so that together we might foster a society that is both just and compassionate.” The program was hosted by Lynda Baquero, the Consumer Reporter for NBC New York.

Though the honorees are chosen well in advance of the event, the baseball theme played into the evening, as longtime supporter of  Catholic Charities and former New York Mets baseball player Rusty Staub recently passed away. “[Every time I saw Rusty,] he said to me, Cardinal Dolan what do you need? And I could tell him something an it was done.”

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