Amid the glittering backdrop of Midtown Manhattan, Cardinal Timothy Dolan ushered in the Christmas spirit at the 78th Cardinal’s Christmas Luncheon, boldly declaring, “Rockettes, Macy’s, Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree—step aside!” His spirited proclamation announcing that the luncheon is the official start to the Christmas season resonated with 800 Catholic Charities benefactors, setting the stage for an extraordinary celebration. This year’s event proved to be more than a festive gathering—it was a powerful testament to the transformative impact of hope and charity.
Held on December 7th, the 2023 Annual Cardinal’s Christmas Luncheon soared to new heights, raising nearly $1.4 million to support the vital programs and services of Catholic Charities New York. The luncheon unfolded the enchanting Saint Raymond School Christmas Choir, a soul-stirring performance by Amanda Batista, a Soprano from the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and a Christmas Nativity tableau featuring Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the children from Saint John Chrysostom School.
Gratitude and Inspiration:
Expressing heartfelt gratitude to the generous benefactors, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, the executive director of Catholic Charities, reminded attendees of the true meaning of Christmas. In a poignant moment, he emphasized the need to remember the suffering of others, particularly the children, during the holiday season. Drawing inspiration from the timeless message of Jesus’ arrival, Msgr. Sullivan highlighted humanity’s potential to overcome suffering and darkness, aligning with the mission of Catholic Charities to bring hope and positive change to those in need. “Let us all rejoice in the power of His Spirit within us that enables each of us to be the instruments of His goodness. And for you doing your part, the messengers of health, hope, and love to our world.
Honoring Remarkable Individuals:
The luncheon also served as a platform to honor outstanding individuals dedicated to making a difference. Angel Award recipient Helen T. Lowe, a philanthropic force, raising over $1 billion to support various causes, shared her profound reflections on the significance of gathering to witness children singing carols, describing the experience as “divine, freezing time each year.” She highlighted the kindness and love exhibited by immigrant women who tirelessly care for the vulnerable, describing them as “true angels” embodying the spirit of Christmas.
The Spirit of Saint Nicholas Award was bestowed upon Ann and Barry Ridings, passionate advocates for underprivileged children, those battling breast cancer, and individuals suffering from Parkinson’s. Mr. Ridings, a dedicated member who has served on the Catholic Charities Board for 12 years, stood as a testament to their commitment. Mrs. Ridings shared a touching story, illustrating how seemingly small acts of unseen kindness can have a profound impact on others. Her narrative beautifully echoed the collective influence of the luncheon attendees in touching the lives of children, seamlessly connecting the Ridings’ dedication and the supporters’ actions to the event’s overarching spirit.
The Cardinal’s Christmas Luncheon has once again proven to be a testament to the spirit of giving, hope, and charity that defines the Christmas season. With the support of dedicated individuals like Helen T. Lowe, Ann and Barry Ridings, past honorees, and supporters, Catholic Charities New York continues to bring light to the lives of over 400,000 New Yorkers in need each year. As we celebrate this year’s success, let us carry the spirit of generosity into the holiday season, embodying the true meaning of Christmas.
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