Braving a haze that enveloped the city, hundreds of supporters of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York gathered under the iconic blue whale of the Museum of Natural History on June 7 for the annual gala dinner. There they heard praise for champions of charity and programs that sustain those struggling with hunger and disabilities and provide help for migrants and children.
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, told the group to remember those who Catholic Charities works with every day.
While they were preparing for the evening, he said, “there was a family in the Bronx in danger of losing their apartment, and a Catholic Charities worker made sure their rent was paid.” In Washington Heights, he said, a youth was preparing to land a summer job. In midtown, a woman in an abusive domestic situation was finding shelter. Meanwhile, a Ukrainian refugee fleeing violence was able to locate a home and more than 40 food sites throughout the city and its adjoining northern counties were providing assistance.
Msgr. Sullivan said that Catholic Charities was able to do this kind of work because of the support of its benefactors, many of whom were gathered at the museum for the 14th annual gala event.
The event was emceed by WNBC’s Michael Gargiulo and began with the singing of God Bless America by one of New York’s bravest, FDNY firefighter William Arce. After dinner music was performed by Jessica Vosk, best known for her starring role in the Broadway hit Wicked. The gala video highlighted the works of Catholic Charities, with a glowing testimonial from celebrity Chef Lidia Bastianich, whose family was assisted by Catholic Charites after arriving in New York as refugees, and a report on the impact of food programs, including an organic farm, operated by Catholic Charities in Rockland County.
Recipients of this year’s Deus Caritas Est Award, the agency’s highest honors, were also presented. This year’s recipients are Marilyn and William Frank, and Clarke Murphy.
Mr. Murphy, the former CEO of Russell Reynolds Associates, told the gala crowd that much of the work of Catholic Charities is providing the support he felt growing up playing touch football with his four siblings.
“You have to dust yourself off and get back in the game,” he said about his touch football experience, noting that Catholic Charities provides that kind of encouragement for New Yorkers facing struggles. Mr. Murphy, the author of “Sustainable Leadership: Lessons of Vision, Courage, and Grit from the CEOs Who Dared to Build a Better World,” is a leadership expert and guest lecturer at Sloan, Darden, and Harvard business schools.
Attorney William Frank, after receiving his award, noted his Bronx roots and praised Catholic Charities for its food programs.
In the Bronx, he said, Catholic Charities feeds people and gives hope. Mr. Frank practiced law for more than 50 years and is a Vietnam War veteran. He has been an active supporter of Fordham University, where he served on the board of directors, and at Georgetown, his alma mater. He serves as chair of the Audit Committee for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. He and his wife Marilyn, a former computer analyst and graduate of Newton College of the Sacred Heart, are the parents of four children and the grandparents of 12.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan concluded the evening with a short reflection on the Eucharist, through which Catholics receive the Body of Christ, and feeding the hungry through the work of Catholic Charities. He quoted Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker and a canonization candidate, who noted the link between the Eucharistic bread and that used to feed the hungry.
Professional photography of the event was provided by Mathew Adam, whose selections can be browsed on his website.