The unofficial second opening of New York’s Christmas season – held days after the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting – took place Dec. 7, as more than 500 benefactors celebrated the 77th Annual Cardinal’s Christmas Luncheon at the New York Hilton.
We couldn’t do it without you.
This year’s luncheon focused on the needs of women and children.
Luncheon benefactors heard the school choir from St. Raymond’s in the Bronx and watched the children of St. John Chrysostom School, also from the Bronx, perform the Christmas story as Timothy Cardinal Dolan read from the Gospel of Luke. Opera soprano Brandie Sutton performed classic Christmas carols. The event was emceed by Fox 5’s Rosanna Scotto.
While they enjoyed the meal and the festivities, luncheon participants were reminded of its larger purpose to assist the poor of New York through the work of Catholic Charities.
Noting the massive work of Catholic Charities’ in assisting the poor, Timothy Cardinal Dolan noted that its donors make it all possible. “We couldn’t do it without you,” he said.
The first Christmas, said Mary Buckley Teatum, President of the Archdiocesan Ladies of Charity, “did not happen in a perfect world” and that the struggle to lift up the poor continues to this day. “Christ’s needy are all around us,” she said.
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, said that the organization is devoted to welcoming migrants, a part of the church and the city’s long tradition.
He noted the large influx of migrants this year, most from Latin America, who have been assisted by Catholic Charities.
He described the 24-day-old baby he met this summer, carried by her mother. “She had made the journey from Venezuela up through Central America to come to New York,” he said.
The assistance Catholic Charities is able to deliver provides a welcoming space for mothers and their children seeking safety, security, and opportunity, Msgr. Sullivan said.
The Christmas Angel Award was presented to Catholic Charities’ board member Susan Conley Salice in recognition of her service to the needy.
She described herself as growing up in an upstate Catholic family and quickly learned that “I was needed and expected to help others, no questions asked” including those in her family and beyond. She described her work with SNOW, which assists Catholic Charities’ families via Christmas shopping days. Volunteers with SNOW shop for items each year, with the items distributed around Christmas to needy families selected by Catholic Charities.
I was needed and expected to help others, no questions asked.
Susan has been engaged in philanthropy for more than 30 years through her stewardship of the Salice Family Foundation, which she founded with her husband Tom. Susan is on the board of a number of non-profits, including Catholic Charities, Fordham University, Greenwich Hospital, and Silver Hill Hospital. She is the executive director of Helping Hands Rye, a Westchester-based nonprofit dedicated to providing backpacks for youth in need.
Deb and Steve Rusckowski were presented with the Spirit of Saint Nicholas Award for their work assisting the poor throughout the world, from the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, survivors of rape camps in Bosnia Herzegovina, earthquake victims in Haiti, to victims of sex trafficking in Massachusetts. Steve is retired as chairman and president of Quest Diagnostics and Deb is a critical care nurse, with a master’s degree in theology with a concentration in bioethics. The couple has been involved with the Order of Malta’s Mission to the United Nations.